NICC agriculture program redesigned to reflect innovations in farming

As new technologies and best practices are introduced in agriculture, Northeast Iowa Community College (NICC) re-designs the focus of its academic programs to reflect innovations and ensure that curriculum is workforce relevant. At its December 18 meeting, the NICC Board of Trustees approved the suspension of the College’s Agriculture Production - Associate of Applied Science degree program and approved a new Associate of Applied Science program in its place, Agronomy and Crop Science.

The Agriculture Production program, which presented an overview of a variety of ag production areas, will close at the end of the 2017-2018 academic year. The new Agronomy and Crop Science program, to be offered starting in 2018-2019, focuses on soil health, food production and farm sustainability. New courses include Plant Physiology, Livestock Nutrient Management, Grain Management, Agriculture Fertilizer and Chemicals, and a Special Project.

The shift in program design reflects changes in crop production and is a result of discussions with member colleges and organizations affiliated with the Community College Agriculture Alliance Advisory (CCAAC). NICC is one of 10 Midwest colleges, and the only community college invited to join the consortium to move agriculture research and best practices forward across the nation.

The goal of CCAAA is to improve the health and long-term resilience and sustainability of the soil. Other members of this alliance include the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the National Institute of Food and Agriculture Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) and the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA).

As an adaptive higher education institution, the College embraces a model of continuous improvement and evaluates academic programs each year to ensure their relevance to the workforce, according to Liang Chee Wee, Ph.D., NICC president. “For us as a College to be responsive and agile, we must examine all of our programs, analyze the jobs available as we move forward and listen to the input of advisory committee members from the industry,” Dr. Wee explained.

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the NICC Board of Trustees is at 3 p.m. January 15 at the Keystone Area Education Agency in Elkader.

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