Agricultural scientists help train National Guard Ag Development Team members
Members of the Arkansas National Guard's Agricultural Development Team, which is scheduled for deployment to Afghanistan in spring 2010, received training from University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture animal science and poultry science faculty members in late January at the Pauline Whitaker Animal Science Center and the Leland Tollett Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.
Four team members who will work with farmers and help train other U.S. personnel and Afghan counterparts were instructed in care, diagnosis and treatment related to animal health issues with cattle, sheep, goats, poultry and horses.
The instructors, all veterinarians in the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, were Dr. Dustan Clark, Cooperative Extension Service poultry veterinarian; Dr. Jeremy Powell, associate professor of animal science; and Dr. Steve Breeding, director of the Leland Tollett Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.
The training included classroom instruction and hands-on work with animals and carcasses to learn about anatomy and post-mortem diagnosis.
The team is made up of volunteers from Army and Air Force National Guard units across the state.
The U of A Division of Agriculture provided a week of training for team members in November 2009. The intensive veterinary training Jan. 22 and 23 was for four team members who will serve as animal health experts. While working in Afghanistan, team members will be able to consult with Division of Agriculture scientists via the Internet, Clark said.
Col. Steven Redman, commander of the Arkansas Agriculture Development Team, said, "We are the first ADT in this particular province, so the reach-back consulting piece is an integral part of the mission. The ability to access the research and experience of the university professionals will help ensure the success of our team in dealing with unique farming issues."
Team member Lt. Col. David Sheely said the teams will augment Provincial Reconstruction Teams with information and farming expertise. The mission focuses on developing or improving current farming practices, managing soil and water natural resources and developing post-harvest industries for the products in order to renew a long-term, profitable and sustainable agricultural economy in Afghanistan, he said.
ADT teams are also being fielded from California, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas.
The volunteer team members bring experience in row crop farming, irrigation, cattle and poultry production, soil science and agricultural education.
Sheely of Clarksville is commander of the maintenance squadron at the Arkansas Air National Guard 188th Fighter Wing in Fort Smith. He is a former high school agriculture teacher and has a Master of Arts in agriculture.
Lt. Col. Karen Ryan of Batesville is a registered nurse in the Arkansas Army National Guard working full time taking care of wounded soldiers in the Community Based Warrior Transition Unit at Camp Robinson in North Little Rock.
Master Sgt. Paul Fair of Hackett is a full-time firefighter with the 188th Fighter Wing. He is also a farmer, raising livestock and soybeans.
Technical Sgt. Justin Mankins of Cedarville is a full-time fire fighter with the 188th Fighter Wing. He grew up on a family farm at Cedarville.