Community colleges seek more agriculture students to keep up with labor demand

An Illinois agriculture professor says community colleges need more students to meet the growing demand for industry jobs.

Bill Harmon with Lincoln Land Community College tells Brownfield enrollments at most community colleges in Illinois are steady but, “We’re supposed to supply qualified workers for local businesses but we’re not able to do that statewide and locally here as well, because we’re just not getting enough graduates. We need more students, and we have the jobs waiting for them. So, it’s a frustrating problem.”

He says recent agriculture students have had at least 2 to 3 offers for rewarding, well-paying jobs both in and out of state waiting for them upon graduation.

“Ag education is for the 18 to the 68 year old. If you’re interested, we’ve got a place for you. Whether it is one year, two years, or maybe even going on for that four year degree, there’s a spot and the ag industry needs your help.”

Harmon says another issue some community colleges are facing is administrative pressure to increase course loads per teacher and class sizes. But, he says most ag teachers are used to dealing with those problems from time to time and he still has a positive outlook for agriculture education at the junior college level.

Harmon says there are at least 21 community colleges in Illinois that offer agriculture programs.

*Featured photo provided by the Illinois Facilitating Coordination in Agriculture Education program

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