COLUMNS: Sign up now for TRU, and tell everyone

This is a busy season. I hope you are looking to the New Year as part of your busy-ness.

This is a busy season. I hope you are looking to the New Year as part of your busy-ness.

We are fortunate to have an education program, right here, for educating our next generation of ranchers and farmers.

In November, Thompson Rivers University (TRU) celebrated the completion of the first year of the two-year diploma program called the Applied Sustainable Ranching program.

This is a made-in-the-Cariboo program which allows local students to stay at home, study and develop their skills.

If they live away, they just need to travel occasionally to meet with instructors, do field trips to agriculture operations and to discuss with their fellow students.

When they are at home or placed in a ranch/farm setting they work half time for the host and do online work, half time independent study and group work.

This type of learning/teaching is a wave of the future. It is called experiential learning. Combining online study with face-to-face learning is a recipe for success.

The major work of the course is all geared for the completion of a business and operational plan for a ranch/farm business, although the business training itself would serve any business well.

The payback for a student is to have a lot of professional help from experts — local ranchers/farmers and industry experts from the university and from industry as they develop their plan.

This help can be indispensable for an operation that wishes to tweak or reboot their business with a different configuration of enterprises, or just further their existing successful ventures.

We need your help to get this word out!

There are spaces available for starting in January 2017. Registration can be at any time, but preferably by the third week of January. Potential students can contact TRU at  250-392-8000. Google TRU Williams Lake Campus for course information.

You can follow a blog about the program too. The success of this program depends on continually informing young (and older) folks about this option.

And, this is not a dead end after the diploma. Olds University/College recognizes the two years of study and their agriculture business BA program can accept students into third year there.

There are various scholarships available. Let me mention two new ones which almost cover the tuition for one year.

First, the Bill Freding Memorial Bursary for $5,000 commemorates Bill, who was a ranching pioneer with a passion for lifelong learning and giving back to community and the industry he loved.

Second, Brian and Muriel Garland have donated a scholarship called Cariboo Chevrolet, Buick, GMC Entrance Award for $5,200 which is open to current 4-H members and those  4-H alumni who are out of 4-H for up to five years. Preference is given to students from the Cariboo.

These are tremendous scholarships/bursaries and contribute immeasurably to the affordability of the program.

If you think you know someone, please help get this word out.

Happy Christmas. I will be watching for sleigh tracks and reindeer footprints.

David Zirnhelt is a member of the Cariboo Cattlemen’s Association and chair of the advisory committee for the Applied Sustainable Ranching program which started at Thompson Rivers University in Williams Lake this January.

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