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Heartland Community College looks to expand Agriculture programs

April 21, 2020

Heartland Community College is taking steps to expand Agriculture programming for students in District 540.

At the April 21 District 540 Board of Trustees meeting, professor Miranda Buss outlined the College goals for meeting the needs of the region. Heartland launched the Agriculture program in the Fall of 2015. Since that time the College has built a robust program that is designed to transfer Ag students toward a four-year degree. The creation of new certificate programs will also allow students to advance into the workplace directly from Heartland. 

Working with an Industry Advisory Board consisting of representatives of small and large agriculture companies in Livingston, Logan, and McLean counties, the College has been developing curricula for certification and an Applied Associates Degree (A.A.S) program to meet area employment needs.

The new AGRI 101, Introduction to Agriculture, course was created to prepare students from non-agriculture backgrounds for the major. Overall, the College seeks to create certificate programs in Agronomy, Precision Agriculture, Sustainable Agriculture/Urban Food Production, and Agriculture Business. Around 20 courses will need to be created to support these programs.

“Our target to launch the Applied Associates Degree and certificate programs in the 2021-2022 academic year,” said Buss. “We’ve been working with district high schools to explore dual credit opportunities as well as seeking out partnerships with agribusiness leaders in the Bloomington-Normal, Pontiac and Lincoln areas to explore what type of hands-on opportunities we can provide to students who will enroll in these programs.”

The next step in the process of program development is Curriculum and Academic Standards approval, estimated in August 2020​. District 540 Board of Trustees and Illinois Community College Board (ICCB) approval must also follow.

Written by: Steve Fast