Finding Your Inspiration

Sometimes work can get you down – trying too hard, mistakenly taking support for granted, expecting too much, thinking that in the great big work-a-day world you will be... rewarded. What can I say? You ought to know better.

Good thing, the way things turn out does not necessarily depend on you (better yet, it does not depend on you alone).

On May 11 ensued a ten-day training of trainers (conveniently shortened to T-O-T by training jargon-sporting TMS – i.e., training management team) on PalayCheck at the DA-RFU compound in Pili, Camarines Sur for extension workers in the province who had no previous season-long training on rice. You haggle for the laptop and digital camera that you have to use since, concurrently, a two-week training is ongoing in Regent Hotel, Naga City and a four-day training on agricultural marketing for cooperatives is slated at the ATI-RTC 5 quarters in Guinobatan, Albay. In the afternoon May 12 you rush back to Albay for a stint on e-Learning in the morning of May 13th for trainees attending the agricultural marketing course, and also to get the essential training resources CD because the laptop used in the TOT could not read the DVD you misguidedly brought along.

Hoping that you still managed to put across the right content, appeal and enthusiasm, you rush back to the TOT to deliver to Ms. Vien the project officer the much-missed CD for the very necessary ice breakers, reflections, prayers. And, oh, no one was taking pictures…

With preliminary activities for the 9th National DAPI Convention brewing in Naga City, you rush to the venue as you were requested by Ma’am Rose to help in the recording of events. So you spend the next day and two nights in Villa Caceres Hotel. Listening to the Director of ATI very passionately discussing ongoing and upcoming events in the agricultural landscape, as well as hobnobbing with equally ardent Municipal and City Agriculturists from all over the country, was enlightening, stimulating, sometimes awe-inspiring. Taking notes like crazy and asking the hotel management to record the proceedings for good measure, you pray that you will somehow make a decent document out of your scrawls and, although you could not check by the hour, that the audio files of the proceedings are done right.

On Friday, May 15th, you set off for the TOT which by now is in the Camarines Sur State Agricultural College for the computer-internet hands-on. You find that the venue is hot – literally. The College’s e-Learning Center is under renovation and the computer units are temporarily set up in an old building which is the only structure, you learn, that is able to support the electric power requirement of 35 computer units simultaneously running. Problem is its single air conditioning unit cannot cool the room down. Ms. Mia Almelor of CSSAC talks about the basics of computers and the Internet, and you discuss the benefits of electronic learning. On Monday, May 18th, Prof. Vlady Foronda, e-Learning Center Director of CSSAC, engages the participants in the use of the Nutrient Manager software and the Rice Knowledge Bank website. You are sick with worry over your perspiring but determined adult learners. And, oh, no one was taking pictures…

You have one more topic to deliver as part of your unit’s KM task. With this task thankfully completed on the 9th day of the training, you now focus on preparing the training synthesis in pictures – hopefully with a developmentally relevant background audio. Encouraged by the legendary artistry of Mr. Yetbo of ATI-CO, you prod on. Sleep is out of the question. But there you have it: on May 22, Day 10, it could only have been with a Higher Power’s help that you are able to present, in PowerPoint-animated pictures and audio, of the past days’ activities – something that trainees, you find, always look forward to. It is enough, it seems, that it brought forth from them laughter, optimistic comments, even thoughtful silence.

Over the weekend, you post a quick piece at ATI’s website about the DAPI activity. The effort put into it by the Central Office organizers, the speakers’ fervor, the seriousness and gaiety of the participants – these prod you to make the report.

Monday, May 25th, a six-day TOT on PalayCheck, this time for extension workers who had previous season-long training on rice, ensues at the DA-RFU compound. You go through the same routine – manning the audio-visual tools, generally assisting Ms. Melbs the training in-charge all-around, a computer and internet literacy module with discussions on the e-Learning program and DA’s text support, communicating about the very essential communication (and, oh, no one was taking pictures…), a sleepless night but this time with lots of help from good friends Dong, Techie and Melbs to produce training synthesis that you hope is both entertaining and substantial.

By Saturday afternoon, May 30th, during the Closing Program, you feel drained. People are people are people… coworkers identified as support staff to the trainings had other activities to attend to, and some simply could not or would not extend a hand to the three-consecutive-week activity.

Nevertheless, consolation comes from those who did help – not only from ATI but also from officials, facilitators and resource persons from partner agencies – PhilRice Los Baños, DA, and the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist of Albay.

But best of all, a text message received on Saturday evening from Mr. Mike Lomberio, MAFC Chair of Mercedes, Camarines Norte (whose CP number was introduced to you by Sir Rey months ago), makes your day. He says he saw a feature about ATI on TV… “Alam mo sa lahat ng DA agencies kau ang d ko makakalimutan all d rewards I am reaping in farming attributed lahat sa inyo. Kundi dahil sa ati nangangapa pa rin ako sa technology. That’s how important you to me. Maaaring bale wala i2 sa inyo, but 4 me ur dat so valuable.”

You still have Mr. Mike’s text in your cellphone’s inbox, and you think you will probably have it there for a long time.

ATI Today

Extension services continue to evolve. With the challenges that extension workers and farmers face, the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) continues to explore various strategies to improve its efforts as the extension and training arm of the Department of Agriculture. In over 30 years, the ATI has celebrated various successes and learned from the lessons during hard times. Nonetheless, we are proud to be standing the test of time through the support of our partners and the clientele themselves. This is the ATI Today, more committed to bring you extension services beyond boundaries.