L.L.C.C. Ag Program Receives National Award, Looks for Growth in 2020

By Jeremy Coumbes on January 9, 2020 at 9:12am

l-r: Jason Kemp, 2019 NAAE president; Nasser Dean, Stakeholder Relations Manager - Western U.S. Region, Bayer; Bill Harmon, LLCC professor and agriculture program coordinator; and Deanna Thies, NAAE Region 4 director

The Lincoln Land Community College Agriculture Program is starting off the year with a national award, and possibly ending in a new home.

Lincoln Land Community College Agriculture was one of just six programs nationwide to receive the 2019 National Association of Agricultural Educators Outstanding Post-secondary Agriculture Program Award. The award was presented at the NAAE annual convention in Anaheim, Calif., on Dec. 3.

Bill Harmon, LLCC professor and agriculture program coordinator, who accepted the award on behalf of the college, says that a lot of work and dedication by the Ag program staff and students went into being recognized by the N.A.A.E.

The award is based on activities we do as a program both in the classroom and in the laboratory, and then extracurricular activities like with our judging team, and our Ag Club, service activities we do in the community. It is for the Midwest Region No. 4 that we were selected as the winner this year. This is the second time that Lincoln Land has won the award, it was also awarded to the school in 2001.”

Harmon says that it is very special for the Ag program at Lincoln Land to be recognized with the award, and that the program is continuing to do well despite it being a tough time in the community college sector.

Well it is a growth period here at the college. Our enrollment last semester we were down I think maybe four or five students. The numbers for this semester look good. We tend to run into the issue when the economy is good and people are finding jobs pretty easily, so enrollments tend to fall at the college, it’s kind of cyclical that way.

Ag education here has been pretty stable. We are looking though that with the opening of the Kreher Agriculture Center in the spring of 2021, that it is going to help us to really recruit and really grow this program.”

LLCC officials broke ground on a new home for the Ag program in 2019. TheKreher Agriculture Center will open on campus in spring semester of 2021. The 17,000 sq ft space will have several dedicated classrooms including two that will be expandable for large group functions, soil and horticulture labs as well as a livestock lab and multi-use spaces for various Ag related education, both in the classroom and hands on.

Harmon says that the new facility will have dedicated student areas as well, something that has been lacking in all areas of the school.

Another addition coming soon to the program will make it easier for potential Ag students here in West Central Illinois to utilize the Lincoln Land Ag Program, Harmon says plans are already underway to take the Ag Program online this year.

We are always looking at where is the demand for classes. Right now one of the things we have been getting a lot of questions about, including in the Morgan and Cass county areas is some people having interest in some online subjects. Especially for adult learners who are either working full time or maybe they are farming, and they would like that opportunity to take the class but they can’t make it over here to Springfield.

Right now most of our traditional Ag classes are offered during the daytime, which is a problem if you are employed. We have three faculty members who are going through a training this semester so they can offer some online courses. We are looking at an Ag business class, that is the first one we can start on in the spring and the fall, and then probably a marketing class. We have had a lot of questions about that, especially from non-farm people who maybe are absentee land owners or they just want to learn more about commodities. So those are two that we are looking at right away across the district, but also and especially including Morgan and Cass Counties as well.”

For more information about the LLCC Agriculture Program, visit www.llcc.edu/agriculture