Winter hits winter meetings; writing notes helps learning


Winter meetings are a major part of MU Extension educational events for farmers. This year, meetings collided with winter. For 10 years winters seemed to get warmer, I don’t recall many winter meetings being cancelled. It is happening.

One long-planned ReproGene meeting in Southwest Missouri was called off. A severe winter storm advisory with deep cold and ice was cited.

The ReproGene meetings by MU animal science extension teach new protocols for breeding cows artificially. The “Gene” addition tells how genomic testing improves breeding matchups.

This comes from basic research at the MU Thompson Farm, Spickard, where all females in the beef herd are DNA tested. Taking a sample of blood or a small piece of ear reveals the DNA of a calf. Genes tell lifetime potential.

Amazing progress has brought improved quality. Quality heifers improve calving ease. Coming with that are genes for better carcass quality.

Easier calving cuts death losses. Improved carcasses bring more steers that grade Prime at the packing plant. High grades bring premium prices.

All of that means higher profit potential for Missouri cattle producers. In the last cattle census the Show-Me state regained No. 2 standing in U.S. cow rankings.

There are large numbers of high quality cattle in Missouri. We lead both ways. Producers slowly expand use of Show-Me-Select protocols that bring these benefits.

My opinion: Lots more producers must adopt progressive ways. As rural economies get a bit shakier, getting returns by investing in science helps our economy.

The Show-Me-Select heifer sales are one way to learn. There will be spring sales, which are educational events. Also, more ReproGene meetings will be held. More veterinarians educate their clients on SMS heifer protocols.

Already this winter, I’ve attended many meetings. MU, through Extension, provides lots of classroom teaching off campus.

Farmers, whether learning crops or livestock, can approach winter meetings much as on-campus students go to class.

Students go to learn. I am seeing this more often, especially in young farmers at meetings. They come with their blank journal notebooks.

Educational research shows that taking notes improves learning. The act of actively listening and taking notes helps learning.

Research shows that learning is less without the physical participation of writing. People who take notes retain more in their minds. The notes provide for follow-up learning. Reviewing notes aids learning.

Going to meetings should be seen less as a social event but as a learning event.

Here’s another tip for better learning, Get close. Move up to see and hear better. Who has the worst hearing? Farmers rank high. An audiologist from the VA spoke at an adult forum I attend. She said farmers test worst in hearing just behind artillerymen. Farmers spend too many years on loud equipment without ear protection.

As a reporter long ago, I found getting closer helps to see slides and hear speakers.

At the MU crops conference in December, I noted how back rows filled first. You’d have thought it was church. Empty chairs abound up front around other press people. They know to get close.

A story in the New York Times this week urged learners to draw pictures in their notebooks. Visuals stay in mind longer than words.

As Extension teachers we could do better. Words on slides should be fewer and bigger. Slides are visual aids, not lecture notes.

Take home handouts aid learning. Those shouldn’t stop note taking however. It helps to go to meetings with a learning attitude.

Tell me what you like and hate about winter meetings. Your ideas help.

Send notes to   

Also, send comments on weather change. The e-mail address this week should reach me. I received responses at both extremes on global weather change. It’s even an issue for candidates. One wants to cut cow farts. I’ve known cows forever and never heard one fart. Dogs, horses and grandpas, yes. Let’s not get rid of them.  


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