Most careers in modern agriculture and related sciences require education beyond secondary school. Outstanding agriscience and agribusiness educational programs beyond the high school level of instruction are more important today than ever before.
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(For news releases, see individual entries below)
BMCC has one of only three post-secondary, two-year agriculture programs in Oregon, appealing to both recent high school graduates and adults seeking higher education. The agriculture faculty members are Nick Nelson, Preston Winn, and Dale Wendt. The program offers three associate degrees as well as two one-year certificates. Currently, there are 115 students enrolled in the agriculture program. The agriculture instructional facilities include a 100 acre farm, livestock pavilion, animal nutrition center, farm shop, food processing center, and three greenhouses. All these resources promote hands-on learning, a primary focus of the program. Students spend much of their class time at the various facilities, tying what they learn in the classroom into production agriculture.
"We feel that it is crucial to maintain applied learning environments in our classes to create hands on learning that can be retained longer by a student," said Nelson.
The agriculture program at BMCC is constantly working to advance its instructional offerings to keep in step with the agriculture industry. In 2013, the program will offer a one-year veterinary technician course, and the faculty hope to eventually have a two-year veterinary technician/transfer degree as well as an equine science degree available to students. Along with the additional degrees and certificates, the program also plans to build an equine event and veterinary center.
"From crops to mechanics and business to animal science, our programs stay on the cutting edge of modern agricultural practices because of the initiative, dedication, and pride of our instructors, who take every opportunity to attend courses and conferences to enhance their professional knowledge and skills," said John Turner, President of BMCC. "I am proud of the impact the BMCC agriculture program has on our region and on the state. The program is well-known and respected by the entire agri-business community. Agriculture is one of the foundational programs of the college and its success is largely due to the superb instructors at BMCC."
The main objective of the Agricultural Business Management program is to help farmers and ranchers throughout southeastern Oklahoma achieve their business and family goals through improved management, organization, and efficiency practices.
To do this, the program offers several seminars throughout the year to help local farmers and ranchers become more technologically up-to-date and efficient in their agricultural pursuits. These seminars cover topics like record keeping, alternative agriculture, estate planning, Department of Transportation regulations, cattle nutrition, partial budgeting, legislative updates, and non-commercial pesticide application licensing.
Williams prides himself in the amount of technology the program is able to provide to the community. With the use of laptops, Williams is able to take record keeping technology into the actual homes of farmers and ranchers in order to provide them with the most accurate financial analysis. Williams recently developed animal-tracking programs to help cater to local farmers' needs. The animal-tracking programs allow producers to follow their animals from birth to maturity in order to show economic gains and losses. The ability to track agricultural enterprises allows farmers to see where their money goes and how they can optimize their profits.
"The ABM program that Hershel coordinates is one of the most beneficial programs that career technology has in our area that serves many people in a number of ways," said Jeff Moore, agricultural education teacher at Latta High School.
Craig McEnany, Dwayne Faidley, and Tim Doud are professors in the agribusiness program at the school, with McEnany serving as the program chairperson. Dan Wilson and Cassandra Brown are assistant professors in the program. All of the faculty members have worked in the agriculture industry, and therefore bring real-life experience to the classroom. The program emphasizes creating new community leaders for the agriculture industry through active engagement. For this reason, courses focus on student interaction as a part of real time evaluation, in order to provide students with the most accurate, current feedback possible.
he agribusiness program partners with Ag Leader Technology, John Deere Ag Management Solutions, and a variety of local equipment dealers in order to use the latest global positioning/global information system equipment and software in the curriculum. Students are able to use these technologies in order to apply problem solving and critical thinking skills to agronomic and animal science issues.
In 2005, the program added a farm production site to enhance student opportunities in agronomy, animal science, farm management, and agricultural technologies. Currently, the farm operation includes a 50 cow/calf operation, a small swine farrow to finish operation, and 325 acres of cropland and pasture. Students are able to experience niche marketing with beef and pork sales from the farm.
"Through its staff, the agribusiness program serves as a leader at our institution in providing a quality educational program for our students while maintaining partnerships with the industry," said Robert Denson, President/CEO of Des Moines Area Community College."Our staff believes that it is their responsibility to assist each student in reaching their personal growth potential through career and leadership development as they are guided through the program."
Ryan Klatt and Nick Rackers have been agricultural instructors at Linn State Technical College for 12 and seven years, respectively. They teach students at LSTC who are working toward their Associate of Applied Sciences degree in Commercial Turf and Grounds Management or their one year certificate in Landscape Management and Turfgrass Management. These degrees give students an opportunity find employment in maintaining golf courses and athletic fields, parks, college campuses and in landscaping residential and commercial buildings.
Students involved in the CTG program are also responsible for the grounds maintenance and landscaping on the campus grounds and the golf practice facility. They are solely in charge of mowing, planting, pruning and irrigating the plants.
"Students have a sense of pride knowing they have helped enhance the campus environment for themselves and the campus community," said Klatt.
The Linn State program works hard to stay on top of current industry trends in landscaping and turfgrass management by inviting speakers to talk to students about new technology. Students are also required to complete an internship during the program between their first and second years. The minimum time spent in the internship is 640 hours. This provides the students ample time to apply their knowledge to a diverse array of field applications at an actual job site.
"The high reputation of the CTG program and the quality of students continually endorses the credibility of the program," said Alice Longfellow, President of Longfellow’s Garden Center, Inc. "Central Missouri businesses and residences are fortunate to have such a resource of quality horticulturists in this community."
Freddie Waltz has been an agriculture educator for 40 years. He has been teaching high school agricultural mechanics at Effingham County High School and advising the Effingham County Young Farmer Association for 15 of those years. Waltz saw a need for continuing agricultural education beyond graduation, as he believes people, whether teenagers or adults, are lifelong learners. Members of the ECYF learn about an assortment of agricultural topics, and they decide what they want to learn about.
The ECYF raises funds to support the Effingham County Fair Livestock Show and scholarship funds for local high school agriculture students by holding an annual auction, usually selling around Community support and the participation of local businesses are vital to the success of the auction. The community, business leaders and professionals believe in the future of agriculture and invest in Effingham County students, raising $1,800 per year for the livestock show, and $12,000 for scholarships.
"The Young Farmer Program is strong and dynamic in Effingham County," said Thomas Kessler, longstanding member of ECYF and owner of Live Oak Farm. "This program touches many outside of the farm community by helping each of the members be effective at our respective segments in agriculture."
Paul Heasley is the agriculture teacher and FFA advisor at State College High School, as well as the advisor for the local Young Farmer Chapter. Heasley has been teaching high school agriculture at SCHS for 16 years, and saw an opportunity for continuing agricultural education beyond the secondary level as the College of Agricultural Sciences at Pennsylvania State University is three miles away from the high school.
Heasley has an ongoing agreement with Penn State to allow pre-service agriculture teachers to use the agricultural mechanics laboratory at the State College High for their Teaching Methods for Agricultural and Environmental Laboratories. He also co-teaches this course with university faculty. In addition to teaching the methods class, Healsey also provides the pre-service agriculture teachers the opportunity to practice the teaching methods they have learned with his secondary students.
I have yet to encounter another educator with his caliber of experience and commitment to a K-16 mindset that truly impacts students’ lives...and changes them for the better," said Sharon Perry, Director of Career and Technical Education at State College High School.