By Maj. Deidre D. Musgrave
Oklahoma National Guard
CAMP ATTERBURY JOINT MANEUVER TRAINING CENTER, Ind. (12/2/09) -- A team of more than 60 Oklahoma Army National Guardsmen are preparing for their upcoming deployment to Afghanistan by using every training opportunity possible.
Members of Oklahoma's 1-45th Agribusiness Development Team recently explored new training for their upcoming mission by visiting The Apple Works apple orchard in Trafalgar, Ind.
Owners Rick and Sarah Brown are celebrating 20 years in the apple business and they were more than happy to share their expertise with the Oklahoma Soldiers. "I feel honored to help troops train and work toward a greater cause," said Sarah, who taught the Soldiers about pollination of crops, spacing of orchard trees, pruning, thinning techniques and management of crops to produce the highest yield.
The Oklahoma ADT is a distinct group of Soldiers, who are skilled experts in agronomy, animal husbandry, veterinary medicine, agriculture marketing, soil science, pest management, forestry, and bee keeping. The team will take their talent and expertise to Afghanistan for 10 months to help educate and empower the Afghan people as part of a rotating Agribusiness Development Team initiative.
Staff Sgt. Timothy Vermillion of Norman, Okla., expressed enthusiasm about the training at The Apple Works orchard.
"Her excitement was contagious and inspired me to study further and research on my own," he said. "The training we received will be very helpful because apples are a major crop in Afghanistan."
The Browns educated the Oklahoma ADT on all aspects of the orchard to include planting, harvesting, storage and marketing of by-products like apple cider and homemade apple pies.
Maj. Doug Christerson of Anderson, Mo., whose area of interest is large animal husbandry, said visiting the orchard was "the best off-site agriculture training that we have received during our training time at Camp Atterbury. Sarah was a wealth of knowledge and her discussions touched on all aspects of our agriculture teams."
About 85 percent of the Afghan population is engaged in some form of agriculture. Upon completion of training at Camp Atterbury the Oklahoma ADT will begin their mission in Afghanistan to enhance the farming and agriculture that has been lost or damaged with 30 years of war.
The 1-45th ADT will be replaced in country by another Oklahoma ADT team that is currently in the development stages of planning and preparation.