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Friday, February 21, 2020

MCC’s agricultural offerings are growing


Montcalm Community College is growing the next crop of agricultural leaders through a unique partnership with the Michigan State University Institute of Agricultural Technology.

The agreement between MCC and MSU IAT helps students earn an associate degree in Agricultural Operations at MCC while at the same time earning a two-year certificate at MSU. Beginning fall 2020, students will also have the option of studying Agribusiness at MCC.

“This is a unique partnership between the two institutions that offers many opportunities to students including access to resources in academics, financial aid, career services and student life at both institutions,” said Agriculture Program Coordinator Merry Kim Meyers.

The Agricultural Operations program provides practical training for rewarding careers in production agriculture. This program leads to an associate of applied science degree from MCC, which integrates into a variety of disciplines including plant and soil science, precision agriculture, water management, entomology, plant pathology and business management. It can lead to careers in agricultural industries such as equipment sales and service, farm operations, crop production management, production service companies and crop processing facilities.

The Agribusiness program, which will be available beginning fall 2020, is for students interested in gaining agricultural industry and business knowledge to apply to their own operations or to launch careers in the industry. The program has an emphasis on agribusiness, but integrates a wide range of disciplines including leadership, technology and compliance through hands-on laboratory learning and classroom formats.

In addition to traditional methods of instruction, students are required to complete a summer internship as part of the program requirements.

“Our students have exciting opportunities to gain hands-on experience across the United States working on farms, with ag businesses, doing research and in a variety of other career areas,” Meyers said. “Plus, we have four students participating in a study abroad trip at CAFRE Ag College in Northern Ireland in May.”

In addition, students can gain leadership and career skills by participating in MCC’s Ag Club and its Collegiate Farm Bureau Chapter.

“These are amazing and unique opportunities for our students to gain knowledge and experience on levels they cannot achieve in a traditional classroom setting,” Meyers added.

For both programs, of the credits required to earn the MSU IAT certificate, some are delivered by MCC and the majority are delivered by MSU. All MSU courses are offered on MCC’s campus or online. Applications for all programs are open.

MCC Animal Science Instructor Michelle Gibson said the addition of the Agribusiness degree option is a great opportunity for students.

“Many of the class requirements are the same for both programs,” she said. “Students actually can earn both degrees by taking a few additional classes, which provides them a more well-rounded education as they look to enter the workforce or continue to pursue a higher level degree.”

Students completing one of these programs may transfer to a four-year agricultural program at MSU when admission requirements are met.

According to the Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development (MDARD), the food and agriculture industry contributes $104.7 billion annually to the state’s economy. Michigan’s food and agriculture system is a large portion of the state’s workforce. Total employment from this sector totals about 805,000, which accounts for about 17 percent of the state’s employment. Michigan farmers produce more than 300 commodities on a commercial basis, and in 2018, Michigan exported $1.98 billion in food and agricultural products.

For more information about these programs or to become a student, contact Meyers at meyersm6@msu.edu or (989) 328-1090.