The new “normal” right now may be distance learning as we navigate the coronavirus pandemic, but hands-on lessons are still taking place on Texas farms and ranches.

That’s because agriculture can enhance the lessons students are learning through school curriculum. Like using math to develop feed rations for livestock or how much fertilizer should be applied to crops and hay fields.

But agriculture’s classroom can also teach students skills beyond the books—handy tricks, life lessons and how to think outside of the box.

A few of those lessons learned on a farm include…

1. Learn the value of a dollar. Hard work pays off for farm kids. But they also learn how much it costs to run a farm—equipment maintenance, feed, fence repairs, seed, fertilizer and more. Farm kids treat their stuff with care, because they understand its value.

2. Be flexible. Work on the farm doesn’t begin at 8 a.m. and end at 5 p.m. Tasks could change by the hour, especially with Texas weather!

3. Reuse and recycle. Farmers and ranchers are resourceful and would rather reuse than refuse the service of something on the farm.

4. There are no excuses. A job is a job. And it needs to be done.

5. Remember that you reap what you sow. Extra effort in the beginning often means a better end result.

6. Always be aware of your surroundings. Don’t get in between a cow and her calf. It’s a mistake you only make once.

7. Duct tape and baling wire. They have a special place on the farm. They can fix anything, and hold together stronger than glue.

8. Work as a team or independently. Some jobs farm kids will complete alone, and others are a team effort.

9. Take initiative. Step up and help out. Offer new ideas or pitch in when an extra hand is needed. If you know something needs to be finished, do it. And if you don’t know what needs to be done, ask.

10. Show respect. When you work for someone, odds are they were in your shoes at one time or another. They have experience and valuable knowledge on the task at hand. That deserves respect. Stop. Listen. Learn. And if a better way exists, approach it in a proper manner.

11. Be a good neighbor. Lend a helping hand. Drive the tractor. Run some errands. Or help work cattle. Being a good neighbor doesn’t cost you.

12. The power of prayer. Pray for rain. For the crops and pastures. For better market prices. For our neighbors, family and friends. For strength and guidance. Because farming and ranching takes a lot of faith.

Sometimes the lessons were tough. Sometimes funny. But they were always valuable, and those lessons extend far beyond the fence to school, sports, careers and life in general.

Farm and ranch kids learn how to find success in life by diving into jobs and projects. And one thing is for sure, Texas agriculture is a great teacher.

Julie Tomascik

Associate Editor

As a third generation rancher, I prefer the outdoors to the kitchen. After all, there’s no better feeling than dirt under my feet and wind whipping through my hair. But I’m slowly learning my way around the kitchen.

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