Flight school for future ag drone flyers

With a little giggling and some friendly trash talk, middle school students paired up to navigate unmanned aerial vehicles through obstacle courses at Washington State University’s Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center in Prosser.

Most of the students come from families who work in agriculture, said Brett Carr, a Wapato Middle School science teacher who accompanied the kids. The field trips might expose the students to farming jobs they may not have imagined and encourage them to pursue high school technology classes they otherwise might not have.

“They didn’t know that was a job, that you could get paid to do this stuff,” he said.

That’s the goal, said Jordan Jobe, project manager for the AgAID Institute — a consortium of scientists at several universities working on ways to bring artificial intelligence technologies to agriculture. Led by WSU, the $20 million research effort focuses on improving intelligent technologies for labor, water, and farm management. 

Bravo laughs as Barrera and Schrader guide her oh-so-close to her target. (Ross Courtney/Good Fruit Grower)

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