Clark State College will host the 2022 Community College Alliance for Agriculture Advancement (C2A3) Annual Conference in Springfield, Ohio. The event will include networking, tours, activities and presentations on September 18, 19 and 20.
The C2A3 is a collaboration of ten Midwest community colleges across nine states who have joined together to provide quality education, training and demonstrations to future farm producers and agriculture service providers. Members of the Alliance partner to share resources, faculty expertise, curriculum and tools to advance agriculture in their regions.
Dr. Adam Parrillo, dean of business and applied technologies at Clark State, said the agriculture consortium is important so community colleges across the Midwest can align efforts for greater recognition of their unique situation in the educational landscape.
“The consortium collaborates on applied research around common issues, shares curriculum through lunch and learn sessions, and creates more robust opportunities that benefit their respective students,” he said. “Each institution brings a different mixture of capabilities and capacities which enhances the opportunities for intellectual growth. Clark State gets to put our institution on display and celebrate our region from an Ag perspective.”
Midwest community colleges with strong agricultural programs and traditions joined together in a national consortium to sign a memorandum of understanding with the United States Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS).
This collaboration, which also includes USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) and the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SARE), was born out of a mutual desire to provide more ongoing education, training and demonstration to future farm producers and agricultural service providers with the goal of improving the health, and therefore the long–term productivity, resilience, and sustainability of the soil.
USDA’s NRCS and SARE programs are a critical link in the education of the current generation of farmers and ranchers; and colleges such as Northeast are considered an important asset in educating the next generation of producers. With the vast infusion of data and technology in agriculture, training the middle skills workforce in agriculture is imperative in meeting the world’s growing food needs and sustaining our land and resources for future generations.
In addition to working together on applied research projects that advance student learning on their College Farms, member institutions partner with one another to share resources, faculty expertise curriculum and tools which will advance the future of agriculture production in this country.
“This partnership is a great way to leverage resources and knowledge across our colleges, and it provides ways to work together to enhance our agriculture programs collectively,” stated Dr. Tracy Kruse, executive director of the alliance. Additionally, she states that the alliance showcases the important role that community colleges play in agriculture and rural economic development.
“USDA recognizes C2A3 member colleges for their ability to provide a future workforce for its field offices and, more generally, to support leadership and community development in rural areas.”
In 2018, C2A3 was selected to receive $200,000 from USDA-SARE for the development of soil health curriculum, supplementary materials and workshops for current students and producers. The grant supported the classroom activities, field days and other demonstration efforts. In 2020, members of C2A3 received more than $500,000 collectively to expand those efforts, which included the development of a conservation plan on the college farm, and the implementation of best and promising agricultural management practices and techniques. It also included the submission of data and analysis back to USDA-NRCS.