The Clark State Community College Precision Agriculture program will expand into local high schools beginning with a workshop for high school agriculture and STEM instructors in June.
The National Science Foundation awarded Clark State a $402,378 grant for the Precision Technologies: Integrating Agriculture and Geo-Sciences project in 2016. Funds from this grant provide local teachers a stipend to attend the workshop on June 12 and 13, and equipment to later use in their classrooms.
“Teachers will receive a hand-held GPS unit and electronics kit,” said Dr. Larry Everett, professor and coordinator of Precision Agriculture for Clark State and director of the Ohio Center for Precision Agriculture. “The workshop will include activities utilizing these items so they can take the materials into to the high schools to use with their students.”
Teachers who complete the workshop and meet additional criteria and qualifications for College Credit Plus instruction will be able to teach Clark State’s AGR 1750 Precision Agriculture class in their high school. Students enrolled in College Credit Plus will earn credit for the course. Everett said a second teacher workshop will be held in 2018.
Completing the AGR 1750 course in high school for college credit will give students a leg-up in the Precision Agriculture program at Clark State. Students in the program will also have the option of a new two-year Precision Agriculture Tech degree, also made possible by the NSA grant.
“There is an industry need for this knowledge. Precision ag is for students who want to concentrate more on management and using data for analysis,” said Everett. “The precision ag tech degree is for students who want to work more hands-on and do troubleshooting and installation.”
Courses for the new Precision Ag Tech degree will be available this fall at Clark State. Everett said local employers - including golf courses, landscaping companies and nurseries - are supporting the degree program.
Some companies have also provided equipment for training including a new John Deere Gator 825i which is equipped with precision agriculture features, including auto-steer. The John Deere will be used to teach students the concept of GIS and modern production. JD Equipment in London, Ohio, assisted with the installation, set-up and service for the precision equipment.
“We’re trying to provide education and experience to the students interested in going into a state-of-the-art program,” said Everett. “There is an industry shortage nationwide of workers in precision ag and ag technology. We want to provide students with the basics so they can have a successful career.”