OGLESBY — Students throughout the Illinois Valley are busy preparing for the new school year, and high school graduates thinking of a career in agriculture need look no further than Illinois Valley Community College (IVCC).
“It’s not too late to join other students beginning their ag careers at IVCC. There's still room, and we’d love to have more students join us. There's tremendous opportunity in the ag industry," said ag instructor and program coordinator Willard Mott in a press release.
Fall courses for IVCC's growing ag program include introductory courses in field crop science, agricultural mechanics, general education, agriculture business management and ag industry. A first-year student seeking to earn an associate of applied science degree in agricultural business can earn 15 credit hours during their first semester.
The second semester of the first year includes the subjects of agricultural economics, general education, precision agriculture and agricultural marketing. With these classes, students can earn 16 credit hours.
The fall semester for the second year includes instruction in soil science, general education, agricultural sales, agricultural credit and finance, and agricultural business management. Students completing this semester will accumulate 16 credit hours.
The final semester of the two-year program features classes in microcomputer applications in agriculture, an agriculture internship, an internship seminar, general education and an agricultural elective. This final semester will earn students 13 credit hours which will bring the two-year credit hour total to 60.
Upon completing their two-year degree, some of the careers IVCC ag graduates will be prepared for include positions such as an ag loan officer, farm manager, seed salesman, crop insurance agent, ag facility manager, grain facilities manager, precision ag specialist, farmer and more.
For students interested in continuing their education by earning a four-year degree, IVCC offers a seamless transfer to programs at the University of Illinois, Western, Southern and Illinois State. By first attending IVCC, local students can save thousands in the tuition and fee expenses expected at a university.
With LaSalle-Peru High School revitalizing its ag program and an estimated 1,200 other students in high school ag programs throughout the Illinois Valley, IVCC is both optimistic and fully committed to ag education.
“Agriculture is the largest industry in our district, a significant portion of our tax base and high school ag enrollments are increasing. Unfortunately, these students have been forced to travel long distances or perhaps even relocate to study at other community colleges and universities. We’re changing that,” Mott said.
The United States Department of Agriculture has projected there will be roughly 60,000 agricultural job openings a year, and they also estimate there will only be 35,000 graduates to fill those positions.
IVCC has established a healthy internship program among area agri-businesses, and Mott said he believes it will lead to future employment for many students. Future plans call for an agronomy degree and student organization.
Mott is a graduate of the University of Illinois College of Agriculture, Consumer and Environmental Sciences. He was the ag instructor for 11 years at Bureau Valley High School.
For more information, call Mott at 815-224-0413 or email at Willard_mott@ivcc.edu.