"Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at 20 or 80. Anyone who keeps learning stays young." – Henry Ford
In Ford’s day, the idea of lifelong learning revolved around libraries and night classes. In 2013, we have many options for giving our aging brains a workout.
Even on the farm, far from traditional learning centers, the Internet provides opportunities for us to access a wealth of knowledge to better ourselves, train our employees, educate our children and to just have fun.
YouTube is the No. 1 source for informational and educational videos (in addition to a lot of videos with funny kittens).
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YouTube is also the third most-visited website, after Google and Facebook. Some studies are showing that people age 18 to 35 are now watching more hours of YouTube each day than they watch of regular TV.
Personally, I don’t watch TV anymore; I primarily watch YouTube videos on my iPad that related to my hobbies, such as photography and music.
YouTube videos and channels range from two-minute instructions on how to handle colostrum to Khan Academy’s math curriculum that teaches everything from simple addition to linear algebra.
It’s likely that someone has produced an instructional video for just about any topic you can imagine. A few months ago, a friend of mine changed the transmission in his 2005 Ford F150 pickup after watching a how-to video on YouTube—and this is a guy with virtually no mechanical experience.
Another instance where YouTube saved the day was with my son. When he started kindergarten last year, he could read at a third-grade level and type about 30 words per minute. My wife and I were so proud of ourselves for raising such an exceptional little fella until we realized we never taught him to write with a pencil. Needless to say, he struggled with writing until we discovered a set of instructional videos on YouTube called TinyGrads that helped us learn how to teach him to write.
On the farm, we use YouTube to train new employees on safety protocols and proper milking procedures. We have a series of safety videos that we require all our employees to watch at least once a year. We still have group safety meetings a few times a year, but we find our employees internalize the information better when watching a video alone or in a group of two or three.
Currently, we are producing operating procedure videos for our farm on everything from how to start, drive and service the push tractor to changing liners and tail chalk heat detection. We upload these videos to our private YouTube channel and allow employees to access them from our computers, their mobile devices or at home.
I could fill this entire magazine with examples of the educational videos on YouTube. But what is really important to know is that learning is a lifelong process, and YouTube makes it easy and fun.
And since laughter is good medicine, YouTube can keep you healthy as well, with plenty of things to laugh at—like all of those kitten videos.
Don’t ask full questions such as, "How do I test my barn for stray voltage," use only relevant keywords such as "Dairy Barn Stray Voltage."
The more specific keywords you use, the better your results will be. Here are some examples of good dairy and farm-related search terms:
- Dairy safety training
- Calibrate spray rig
- Apply cattle ear tags
- National Dairy FARM Spanish
- Corn growth stages
Dino Giacomazzi is the fourth generation to manage his family’s dairy farm near Hanford, Calif. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- September 2013