IL Corn pilot community college partnership paying off

A northern Illinois community college is thinking outside of the box to find the next generation of agriculture.

Justin Ebert, ag instructor at Highland Community College in Freeport, Illinois, says their pilot project is focused on recruiting urban high school students to ag careers…

“We’ve created what’s called the ‘Agriculture Capstone Program,’ providing 14 college credits for free.”  He says, “Those college courses introduce students to opportunities in animal science, crop science, technology, mechanics, horticulture, and the environment to try to expose them to the opportunities that are available.”

Ebert says getting the students real-life experience is a priority…

“We’re getting some of that feedback from our students, that it’s having an impact and they’ve got interest in agriculture that they didn’t have before coming into the program,” he says.

And he says the experiences have been varied…

“Students got to see an ultrasound of cows.”  He says, “We then talked about some of the other opportunities at a vet clinic, and dealing with opportunities in the crop input service. We’ve then matched that with opportunities we’ve done in our test plot here on campus. So, students have the opportunity to drive a tractor and to help put cover crops on with a drone.”

The project is funded through the Illinois Corn Marketing Board.  Ebert hopes to expand the program’s offerings and reach in year two.   

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