I haven't told very many people, but I've gone back to school - I'm enrolled in an online master's program through Colorado State University in Integrated Resource Management. It's a hybrid degree, combining animal science, range science and agricultural business - kinda what I've been doing for my entire career. So far, I'm enjoying the program (I'm just three classes in) - and I'm looking forward to starting my research project (a survey of cattle, sheep and goat producers regarding their drought management and recovery strategies). In just over 2 weeks, I'll also start a new job as the assistant rangeland specialist at UC Davis (working with extension specialists Ken Tate and Leslie Roche). The new job will allow me to focus on rangeland and watershed issues while completing my master's - I can't wait!
I'm finding there are several advantages to going back to school in my extreme middle age. First, I don't feel the pressure I felt in college to be perfect. In fact, I'm happy that I'm not getting perfect grades - I think this means that I'm actually learning. A perfect grade would imply that I already know the material! Second, I like the integrated nature of the program. My life and work experience suggests that managing grazing animals on rangeland as a business takes a variety of skills and information sources. I think I would find a more narrowly focused program frustrating. Finally, I'm liking the online format - I could not have done something like this when I finished my undergraduate degree in 1990!