I look back at my University of Kansas days with real fondness. In addition to the core classes I needed for a journalism degree, I took many other classes simply because of my interest in the subject material. My courses in art history, anthropology and Greek history were great educational opportunities, even if I don’t get to use that knowledge every day. Though if an opportunity comes along to tell the difference between a Doric and Corinthian column in a meat processing article, I hope to be up to the challenge!

I’m lucky enough to find educational opportunities still, including my recent interview with PJ Quesada of Ramar Foods. What started off as an overview of Filipino cuisine became a quick history lesson about the country, including how past events in the Philippines have shaped not only the food but also the way its people viewed their own food. Even if you don’t plan to make longanisa sausage or lumpia anytime soon, you might want to give this month’s feature interview a read.

Fortunately for those in the meat industry, there are plenty of opportunities to further your education. Whether attending trade shows or conferences, reading trade magazines like Independent Processor or participating in webinars, professionals can keep abreast of technology developments, consumer trends and regulatory updates. I know that your days are busy, but I urge you to take time and keep up with the industry.

In some fields, like pharmacy or nursing, professionals are expected to take continuing education, which could include seminars or educational papers. For instance, nurses in the state of Georgia are required to take 30 hours of continuing education courses every two years to maintain their license (according to my wife, a registered nurse). That breaks down to 15 hours a year, or a little over an hour a month. The meat industry has no such requirements, but imagine the benefit you could get from devoting an hour a month to improving yourself or your business. Learn about management techniques or consumer needs. Have your employees brush up on their humane handling knowledge or review your food safety plan. Just an hour or two a month could result in operations improvements and new ideas that will pay dividends down the road. Just because we are out of college doesn’t mean that the education has to end.