College offers farming degree

Farming is a big part of life here in Monroe County, and soon it might be a part of MCCC.

Over the last nine months, a committee has been devising an agriculture program for students at MCCC, partnering with Michigan State University. 

Students will be able to receive an Associate’s of Applied Science Degree in agriculture. 

Sociology and Anthropology professor Ken Mohney said the proposal was unanimously approved at the Curriculum Committee on Feb 16.

If everything goes according to plan, the course could start as soon as Fall Semester 2017.

“This agriculture science degree has roots in both science and business. So there’s business courses and science classes that are part of the curriculum,” Biology professor Tracy Rayl said.

Students will take agriculture-based courses from MSU professors either here on campus or online, said Paul Knollman, dean of the Business Division.

The other general education courses students need for their degree will be offered by the MCCC faculty, Rayl said. 

They will be the same general education requirements needed for other associate’s degrees, she said.

Monroe is not the only place offering this partnership with MSU; the university has partnerships with 18 different community colleges, Knollman said.

Monroe County is primarily rural outside of the city of Monroe; most of the neighboring communities have a strong farming presence.

“We are in a county that has a large agriculture industry,” Rayl said. “We do not have an agriculture program here in southeastern Michigan, so this would be the first of its kind.”

In the past, high school students could not continue their education in agriculture without leaving the area.

“High school students and young people who maybe want to pursue agriculture, study agriculture, or go on from their high school agriculture course, have nowhere to go within our county,” Knollman said. 

“They would have to maybe go up to Michigan State, probably the closest agriculture program they could attend.”

Because the farming community was underserved at MCCC, a committee was put together to develop this program, Knollman said.

“I think this is probably going to interest the young people a little bit more coming out of high school. People living on farms, working in the industry already,” Knollman said. “I think that will really help people who want to continue that profession.”

Students will get an associate’s degree and  preferential admission status when transferring to MSU.