Jack's Insights February 2018

By Jack Whittier, Director, UNL Panhandle Extension District and Panhandle Research and Extension Center

Several years ago, I visited some friends in Florida. One of our stops was to Earl’s Barn. Earl was the father of one my friends. On the front of the barn was a large sign titled: “Earl’s Barn Rules.” It was clear that all barn users, visitors, neighbors and passersby were welcome to use Earl’s Barn, with the expectation to read and follow these 14 rules.  Here are Earl’s Barn rules:

Dr. Jack Whittier

Earl's Barn Rules

1. If you break it, fix it.

2. If it doesn't concern you, don't mess with it.

3. If you drive it, check the oil.

4. If you don't know, ask.

5. If you lose it, replace it.

6. If you fall off, get back on.

7. If it drinks water, give it some.

8. If you ride it, feed it.

9. If you unlock it, lock it back.

10. If you open it, close it.

11. If you borrow it, return it.

12. If you turn it on, turn it off.

13. If you move it, put it back.

14. If you throw it down, pick it up.

Earl’s rules reminded me of an essay familiar to many titled “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” written by American minister and author Robert Fulghum. Both of these writings contain good common-sense guidelines for navigating through life. 

So, what is the connection between Earl’s Barn rules, kindergarten and the University of Nebraska Panhandle Research and Extension Center and Extension District? Let me suggest a couple of connections, or at least some common-sense information from two of my recent experiences in the Panhandle.

I attended the UNL Crop Production Clinic in Gering, one of several clinics organized annually to update and inform crop producers across Nebraska on new and innovative production techniques. As I listened to several of our Panhandle Research and Extension Specialists during the clinic, I heard some common-sense guidelines that made sense, even to me as an animal scientist.

Hearing and watching our specialists at work made me appreciate the contribution that your university makes to the Panhandle. Our mission is to provide useful, common sense, information to all; in the case of the recent Crop Production Clinics, the information was targeted at crop and livestock producers -- producers who do such an excellent job of generating high quality food to feed a growing world, and are the heart of the economy of the North Platte Valley.

Another event the Panhandle Research and Extension Center brought to you recently, in cooperation with the Midwest Theatre, was the Science on Screen program. The topic of this segment was drones in agriculture. The use of drones (technically known as unmanned aerial vehicles or UAVs) is growing, with promise of many applications to further improve agricultural production systems. Several of our researchers at PHREC are currently using drones in research applications. 

Lincoln-based scientist Dr. Wayne Woldt was the keynote for Science on Screen last week. Wayne is on the faculty of the Biosystems Engineering Department with UNL and conducts a large research and education program based around UAVs. I found the Science on Screen program to be informative and fun.

During the afternoon, a large number of middle-school students attended to learn first-hand how a technology like remote sensing of crops with drones is being used in agriculture. For example, one aspect of the program was to explain common-sense rules for ways drones should be used and to explore new applications for them in agriculture. The evening event expanded on this theme and was directed more specifically to adults.

So, my insight for this month’s article is whether your decisions and judgments in life in the Panhandle revolve around Earl’s Barn Rules, or around research-based information regularly brought to you by the University of Nebraska, I’m assured that both are sources of good common-sense approaches to life. And remember, Earl’s Barn Rules apply to much more than Earl’s barn. Have a good February!