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Local

Revived Kishwaukee College agribusiness program awaits 'official' approval by state

People exit the Student Center at Kishwaukee College on April 26 in Malta.
People exit the Student Center at Kishwaukee College on April 26 in Malta.

Years ago, Kishwaukee College had a strong agribusiness program, Steve Durin, agriculture professor at the college, said.

But, Durin said, there have been highs and lows of workers electing to go into the the field and the college’s program was discontinued when enrollment declined.

“If we’re at a low period in agriculture and profitability for farms, students tend to go into other areas that are a little bit higher paying,” Durin said.

Now there’s a need for more young people with knowledge of technology in precision agriculture, Durin said, and the college’s new agribusiness program is designed to bring in tech-savvy individuals that are needed in the industry right now. He said he recently received an email from the college’s vice-president of instruction that said the college hasn’t received official notice of approval from the Illinois Board of Higher Education, but the board passed all new business during its June 5 meeting, according to the board’s website.

“So that, to me, is really good news,” Durin said.

Durin said class sizes will be kept between 12 and 15 students so instructors can train them on state-of-the-art equipment – which has become very sophisticated and computer-integrated, he said.

“They’ll be very valuable assets to the agriculture community if they can get trained on that equipment,” Durin said.

Durin, who will be the head of the new program, said there are a couple of agribusiness classes at Kishwaukee College but there will now be an associate degree and two certificates for the program.

It’s the first time in a decade that the college has added a new program to its catalog, President Laurie Borowicz has said.

Durin said the program also will offer dual-credit for students at Sycamore High School.

Kara Poynter, agriculture department chairwoman for Sycamore High School, said she thinks the program is great, since students don’t really have an agriculture career pathway currently. She said those students are going to different community colleges that offer those programs.

“This will help our town and school help students continue on the pathway to what they want to do in agriculture,” Poynter said.

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