New Grounded In Ag Training Platform Aims to Address Significant Knowledge Gap for Organizations In Agriculture

As the business of agriculture grows increasingly more complex, acute pressure for talent is leading to an influx of professionals new to the industry. the resulting agriculture knowledge gap has never been bigger – or more consequential. Against this backdrop, communications and training firm Grounded Communications LLC is launching Grounded in AgTM a new online training platform.

The platform is tailored to meet the needs of anyone seeking a better understanding of agriculture starting with foundational topics, said Janice Person, Founder of Grounded in Ag and CEO of parent company Grounded Communications LLC.

“The goal of Grounded in Ag is to offer a new way for people to be more productive early in their tenure and help them avoid costly mistakes that jeopardize customer trust or, more importantly, their own credibility or that of their employer,” Person said, noting that the audiences for the platform primarily include professionals who serve agriculture organizations, in functional areas including marketing, communications, human resources, legal, regulatory and even finance.

“While we built the platform with those new to ag in mind, this also is an excellent resource for seasoned professionals who may be moving into a new sector of agriculture, or people in other industries who need to understand agriculture to better serve their customers and bottom line. The diversity of sources and topics is incredible – we have 40 plus experts offering more than 700 years of experience in ag teaching in these courses,” Person said.

Addressing an urgent need

Person is a veteran food and agriculture communicator and marketer with decades of experience working in agricultural media, agencies, as well as in corporate roles with both a small global company and a Fortune 500 corporation. Her work has ranged from marketing the intricacies of cotton seed to helping people interested in agriculture, but unfamiliar with it, understand today’s farming realities.

“Working in ag for decades, I have had countless conversations with people in agriculture about the challenges of helping people new to the industry get their footing,” Person said. “And even for people who are deep in one segment of ag, moving to another can mean an entire shift in vocabulary, key resources and a need to access the basics. Very few resources or organizations in the industry are addressing this need, and that’s a pain point for so many people I know.”

According to Person, the urgency to address this challenge is increasing for three primary reasons:

  • Agriculture is growing exponentially more complex, especially as new technologies come online.
  • The competition for talent is more intense than ever and the speed of technology is increasing, leading to the recruitment of more people without ag backgrounds to fill agriculture-centric or -critical roles.
  • Many companies are challenged in finding ways to balance workload in light of trim staffing. This can result in a perception among younger hires, who prioritize learning and support, that they are being overlooked or undervalued. 

Person said she started thinking about the knowledge gap and possible ways to address it years ago as a friend sought training help. But the challenge was daunting, so the conversation went no further.

Creating a solution

With the need and challenge clearly defined, Person and her team began building the solution. The team consulted farmers, food marketers, experts in adult learning, HR and hiring personnel, academics and other professionals to define the scope. From there, the team created a syllabus, recruited an advisory board and got to work interviewing dozens of farmers and other experts from around the U.S. to inform lessons and courses. The advisory board has been engaged and tracking the project, offering critical feedback and credibility to the platform and the quality of content it offers.

The platform includes easy-to-follow videos (most ranging from 5-20 minutes in length) augmented with a full range of curated, vetted links to resources online that can add more depth to the understanding of a given topic. In addition, downloadable PDFs are available to provide additional information and for future reference. Because applying this information to their current organization is so critical, there are other PDFs provide areas of inquiry for the employees to dig into what impacts their segment most and why. All of this coursework is paired with a community that lets people interact with peers and stay current on real-time industry developments.

The first wave of content and training consists of 10 hours of programming anchored by the following lessons and individual modules:

  • Ag 101 covers the basics of the industry through three modules:
  • Getting to Know Farmers
  • The Business of Agriculture
  • Agriculture & Sustainability
  • Focus on Crops provides content specific to crop production with two modules:
  • Growing Crops for Food, Feed, Fiber and Fuel
  • Crops Under Attack, Challenges Faced
  • Focus on Livestock provides content specific to livestock production with two modules:
  • Raising Livestock
  • Animal Care

The second wave of training, slated for release by the fall of 2024, will consist of an additional 10 hours of crop- and livestock-focused programming, including:

  • Five courses on corn, cotton, soybeans, specialty crops and wheat; and
  • Four courses on beef, dairy, pork and poultry.

People interested in the program, can get a free preview of Grounded in Ag by opting in on the site. The preview provides the “What do people get wrong? Learn from the mistakes of others.” lessons from the Ag 101 course that provides pointers from eight of the experts involved in phase 1 programming. There is a special pricing offer of 20 percent off any of the course during the introductory weeks – by using the code “launch” at checkout.

Person said future lessons and modules are being considered and will be developed based on feedback from users, an assessment of unmet industry needs and other factors.

“Just as agriculture evolves in a never-ending way, the tools to support adult learning and understanding of this dynamic sector will also need to evolve,” she said.

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