The Texas Education Agency has added the Feedyard Technician Program for high school students to its certified Career and Technical Education list.
The Career and Technical Education program ensures Texas students are prepared for in-demand, high-skill, high-wage careers, according to TEA. About 200 industry-based certifications for public school accountability were approved for 2019-2020.
The industry must signal the value of the occupation-specific certification by including the certification in job postings as required or highly recommended; using the certification as a factor in selecting candidates for an interview and/or hire; and/or offer higher pay for those who possess the certification, according to TEA rules.
Meeting the Need
The conference was aimed at determining the biggest issues facing the industry in the next 10 years, and labor was identified as a major factor, he said.
As a result, the three entities teamed up to develop a program to address that issue. The Feedyard Technician Program started in 2013 and is designed for high school juniors and seniors who may have an interest in the fed cattle industry, said Brady Miller, Texas Cattle Feeders Association director of market, membership and education in Amarillo.
The program has two certified segments: cattle care and handling in the spring and machinery operations, repair and maintenance in the fall, he said. The cattle welfare and handling segment this year had about 90 students from 18 schools participate.
Classes taken outside the agricultural program and/or work experience may be substituted if approved by the agricultural science teacher, said Robert Devin, AgriLife Extension Agricultural Workforce and Community Development program coordinator in Canyon. Students should also participate in an extracurricular activity such as FFA or 4-H or have some type of supervised project experience.
It provides hands-on training in wheel loader and skid loader operation, and lockout-tagout safety procedures, Devin said. Students also visit a feed mill and feed yard to understand some of the job opportunities associated with the industry that are not directly related to cattle.
Making a Difference
“Over the last six years, our member feed yards have taken a liking to the program, because it shows them that not only are the students coming in with some much-needed background and skills, but they also took time to learn more about the industry.”
“We have run 458 students from about 25 different schools through the program – both segments combined,” he said. “And some of those students are going out and getting internships and finding employment within the feed yards.”
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