You might have equipment to service or crops to sell while you wait out winter, but consider using the downtime to try something new. Here are three ideas.

1. Learn a new technology.

Drones, for instance. They offer an increasing array of possibilities for farmers and even fulltime career potential. The University of Nebraska Unmanned Aircraft Innovation Research and Education Center (nuaire.unl.edu) offers courses for operating and applying drone technology. Sinclair College (sinclair.edu) in Dayton, Ohio, offers not only beginning and advanced drone courses but also a degree program in unmanned aerial systems. Chances are, there’s a drone program in your state.

2. Take an online class.

Spanish language, for instance, is increasingly valuable in agriculture. Kirkwood Community College (kirkwood.edu) in Iowa offers 24 hours of noncredit online Spanish training for just $125.

Also, JetStream (srh.noaa.gov/jetstream), an online weather school from The National Weather Service, provides free climatology instruction on topics such as clouds, lightning, remote sensing, Doppler radar and more.

3. Attend a new conference.

Organic enthusiasts call the MOSES Conference (mosesorganic.org), held each February in LaCrosse, Wis., the can’t-miss meeting of the year.

Also, the North American Farmers’ Direct Marketing Association (farmersinspired.com) has several gatherings for direct-to-consumer marketers. It also offers agritourism resources.

— By Gene Johnston