Precision Ag Technicians: Improving Arkansas Farming
The primary goal of this project is to develop a stackable certificate in precision agriculture that will combine the technical and general education courses need to educate workforce ready graduates. The State of Arkansas currently has no programs to address these needs at the community college level, and the skills and education needed are not something available to most high school graduates. Because of the stackable nature of the certificate, portions of the coursework will be applicable to the college's associate degree in agriculture and this will allow some students to pursue a higher degree in agriculture. The project is anticipated to attract a new pool of students who previously would not attend college. This project will, at a minimum, allow individuals to acquire skills in high demand within the agriculture industry and potentially create an interest to pursue higher education. Additional goals are to establish valuable relationships within the agriculture community and provide professional development for faculty that will allow the agriculture program to evolve with the industry.
Black River Technical College will develop new academic programs that enable students to become precision agriculture technicians, a vital industry to feed a growing world population. Not only does precision agriculture allow for greater efficiencies in crop production, it also contributes to more efficient resource utilization and pollution reduction. Most agricultural production equipment now integrates computer systems to control performance. Although equipment manufacturers have embraced these innovations, educational programs have not concurrently maintained pace to properly utilize new technologies. This project will address the lack of skilled labor for the agriculture industry and will provide the needed education to individuals desiring to enter the precision agriculture workforce.