Winter is the time when Extension office offers classes for those into agriculture

January 28, 2013
  • Jeff Semler
Jeff Semler

It is hard to believe it is 2013 already. While many have made New Year’s resolutions and others have been wringing their hands about the economic situation, take heart, this too shall pass, whether it is your failed resolution or our economic woes.

I did a little research and this contraction in our economy is nothing new.

In my lifetime (since 1959), we have had no less than six of these recessions, and since our country was founded there have been a total of 18. With three exceptions, these downturns lasted one to three years.

Many say we are looking more like 1929, when we experienced what was known as the Great Depression. Remember, gold is refined by fire and the tough times of the Great Depression molded what has been called “The Greatest Generation,” the one that brought us through World War II. I have no idea what we are being prepared to take on.

Victory Gardens were grown during World War II. Before that, they were called kitchen gardens, or for many folks, where my next meal is coming from. In recent years, we have seen a back-to-the-land movement and perhaps that was to help us ready ourselves for these lean times.

At any rate, the winter season is the time when University of Maryland Extension offers classes for those looking to enter into the world of agriculture.

While the target is beginners to the moderately experienced, all are welcome to attend these sessions. Our first session scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 31, is Poultry 101, back again this year by popular demand with part two on Feb. 14. Last year, this class filled up and we had a waiting list.

The next session is Dairy Breeding and Genetics on Thursday, Feb. 28, from 7 to 9:30 p.m. It will be a discussion forum centered on cross breeding and pure breeding.

The final series will be Soil Fertility and Soil Health on March 19 and 26. This series will explore more than just fertilizer and lime but will look at the soil as the complex medium it is.

All of the sessions will be held at the Extension office and will run from 7 to 9:30 p.m. There is a nominal cost of $5 per class that can be paid at the door.

If you are interested in sheep and goats, University of Maryland Extension is offering a webinar series on breeding and genetics that started Jan. 22 and will run consecutive Tuesdays through Feb. 19. This is the ultimate in convenience as you can sign in from home and there is no charge and no dress code. Registration is no longer required for University of Maryland Small Ruminant Extension webinars. Participation is open to the first 100 people who log onto the Adobe Connect web site at

On March 7, this year’s Agronomy Day will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Washington County Agricultural Education Center. Crop updates, disease and weed concerns, cover crops, current nutrient management concerns and other related topics will be discussed. Private pesticide applicator recertification and nutrient applicator voucher continuing education credits are available. Lunch will be served at no charge; however, participants must register by March 1. 

Please feel free to contact me with any questions you might have about these trainings. The sessions are interactive and all questions are welcome.

Registration for all sessions is now open and is recommended because we need a head count to insure adequate numbers of handouts and seating. We do cap registration at 30 and do compile a waiting list in the event of cancellations. So please register either by emailing me at or calling 301-791-1304. I hope to see you at one or more of these sessions.

Jeff Semler is an Extension educator, specializing in agriculture and natural resources, for the University of Maryland Extension. He is based in Washington County. He can be reached at 301-791-1404, ext. 25, or by email at

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