Fall Conference and Feeding the World
Last week was our UNL Extension Fall Conference and Nebraska Cooperative Extension Conferences. The energy and excitement involved with getting the entire Extension faculty together and seeing each other again never ceases to amaze me! Regardless of the technological advances in how we conduct programming and business, there’s still something to be said about meeting face to face. We discussed programming at the national, state, and local levels and are currently working on dates and topics for winter programs. A unique professional development opportunity was taught via jeopardy and pictures to help agricultural Extension faculty understand precision agricultural technologies and UNL research related to it. We also received updates on herbicide resistant weeds, atrazine, stinkbugs, and evapotranspiration research.
The conference was completed by watching the video stream from the 2nd Heuermann lecture. Dr. Stephen Baenziger, UNL Small Grains Breeder, spoke to the topic of “Why Agriculture?” At the early age of 18, he couldn’t accept the fact that as human population growth increased, that there would not be enough food to feed the world. He has been about agricultural team research and feeding people and has made an enormous impact on farmers and consumers in Nebraska, the U.S., and the world. A few of the quotes I jotted down from his seminar were: “Agriculture is team research and failure cannot be an option unless you are willing to accept starvation”; Regarding increasing wealth “the future 9 billion people will consume the equivalent of what 12 billion people eat today”; “Success or failure of science as a whole depends on success or failure of agriculture”; and “If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together”. I would recommend checking out the video archive at: http://heuermannlectures.unl.edu/oct-11#tab1
Stephen has also provided a key role in helping our soldiers serving on agribusiness development teams to Afghanistan. He along with a team of over 25 UNL Extension faculty are helping our soldiers answer questions about growing sustainable wheat to feed Afghan families in addition to numerous other questions. This effort is one of the most exciting and rewarding projects I have the privilege of working with in Extension! The current ADT2 team has planted wheat demonstration plots, vineyards, educated about poultry and bee keeping and is working with the Universities and high schools on agricultural programs. It’s been fascinating to hear about their experiences. The people live in mud huts but have cell phones. There’s no mail system or roads, so trying to teach programs or help the Extension faculty there conduct programs is challenging. One Afghan Extension educator took a taxi cab to a rural village and walked from village to village for two weeks in order to solve an agricultural problem. The challenges are great, but our soldiers are making a huge impact on improving the lives of the Afghan people by teaching them how to better feed themselves and their families.