A new partnership between Kellogg Community College and Michigan State University will allow students to earn an Associate in General Studies degree at KCC while simultaneously earning an Agricultural Operations Certificate through MSU – with all coursework completed entirely at KCC.
The new Agricultural Operations Program, offered through KCC and the MSU College of Agriculture and Natural Resources’ Institute of Agricultural Technology, is designed to prepare graduates for jobs or further education in agricultural technology fields and will formally launch with the Fall 2017 semester.
KCC President Mark O’Connell said the new program serves local interest and industry needs in agriculture, particularly in Barry, Branch and Calhoun counties.
“KCC is excited to partner with Michigan State University to help prepare local people for local jobs in the agriculture sector,” O’Connell said. “The new Agricultural Operations Program will offer KCC students yet another seamless pathway to transfer or a rewarding career via KCC.”
Students in the program will take classes on campus at KCC, online and in hybrid online/classroom formats, paying KCC tuition and fee rates for KCC classes and MSU tuition and fee rates for MSU classes. Students will have full access to resources at both institutions, and will be assisted by a local coordinator supporting the program through recruitment, advising, financial aid, course planning and other assistance.
MSU IAT Director Dr. Randy Showerman said the program partnership is a direct response to industry needs, and that the Ag Operations Program is the first of what could be multiple agricultural partnerships in the future.
“We have more opportunities in the agricultural industry than we have individuals to fill those positions,” Showerman said, mentioning Commercial Driver’s License and hops production training as two agricultural needs MSU is currently working on with students. “There are lots of areas that we’re going to be exploring, but if there’s a need, we’re going to try to address it.”
Agricultural Operations Program students must complete a minimum of 21 credits at KCC and a minimum of 34 credits through MSU (a total of 55 credits) to earn the Agricultural Operations Certificate from MSU; a minimum of 28 KCC credits and 34 MSU credits (a total of 62 credits) is required to also earn the Associate in General Studies degree from KCC.
Program courses required at KCC mostly include general education classes, including basic English, math and science classes. Program courses offered through MSU are focused on agriculture, including courses on topics including farm and water resource management, agriculture technologies and regulation, crop and soil sciences and more.
The program will simplify the process for students interested in continuing their education in a four-year degree program at MSU after graduating from KCC, and also allows students who have earned MSU credits through Future Farmers of America programming to apply up to six credits to the dual KCC-MSU degree and certificate program.
Lora Finch, Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources Argiscience instructor and FFA advisor at Marshall Public Schools, said the partnership is a great opportunity for students, linking education to demand-filling careers in the community.
“With the possibility of students taking a full range of high school agriculture classes, earning their state FFA degree from their involvement in leadership then to be able to earn six college credits towards this MSU program, this is a game changer for the agriculture industry in our area,” Finch said.
Kris Jenkins, assistant superintendent of Regional Career Technical Education for the Calhoun Intermediate School District, praised the program for increasing opportunities for K-12 students in the CISD’s natural resources and agriscience programs.
“Students can continue their education and stay close to home, in a field of study that they love,” Jenkins said. “The Agricultural Operations Program is a win-win for all involved in that we will have a more educated workforce ready to fill needed, skilled jobs within our region.”
Jamie Engel, director of Career and Technical Education at the Branch Area Careers Center, called the program a wonderful segue for BACC students to continue their education after graduation or in continuing their early college programming, allowing them “an opportunity to gain knowledge and skills while continuing to live in Branch County and working.”
BACC Agricultural Sciences Program Manager Carrie Preston said the BACC is excited to participate in the initiative, which “will benefit our students tremendously over the years.”
Several FFA students, community members and representatives from community organizations joined KCC and MSU officials as they signed an inter-institutional understanding agreement formalizing the ag program partnership at KCC on March 6, including state Rep. John Bizon.
Bizon called the signing “a momentous occasion” and praised the colleges for their dedication to helping guide students into agriculture careers that could lead to the maintenance of family legacy farms and new job opportunities in the future.
“The real winners here are our children, our kids, our students, those who are able to participate, and I am excited to see so many fresh young faces here,” Bizon said. “For me this is a very, very exciting day.”
While the new Agricultural Operations Program doesn’t formally launch until this fall, students can enroll in KCC courses this summer to fulfill program course requirements in advance. Registration for the Summer 2017 semester opens on April 10. Registration for the Fall 2017 semester at KCC opens June 5.
For more information about the KCC/MSU IAT Agricultural Operations Program, visit www.kellogg.edu/agriculture or contact KCC’s Admissions office at 269-965-4153.
For more information about the MSU College of Agriculture and Natural Resources’ Institute of Agricultural Technology, visit www.iat.msu.edu.
Pictured above, MSU IAT Director Dr. Randy Showerman, left, shakes hands with KCC President Mark O’Connell as FFA students look on after the two officials signed an inter-institutional understanding agreement formalizing the ag program partnership at KCC on March 6.
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