New Precision Agriculture Technician Program at Illinois Central College Seeks to Fill a Growing Need in the Farming World

August 9, 2023

A new Precision Agriculture Technician program launching at Illinois Central College is looking to expand the horizons of student learning through machine repair and agricultural- based education.

This 25-credit hour certificate is expected to have an initial class size of 10-20, with more predicted in the years to come.

With recruitment for local ag-tech companies starting as young as junior high, ICC is opening its’ doors to give students a jumpstart on skills necessary for the agribusiness industry.

WCBU Student reporter Kinsley Reliford, sat down to talk with Program Director Colin Campbell to learn more about what they hope to accomplish with their program.

First of all, I have to ask. What careers can students expect to get with a one-year certificate in Precision Agriculture?

Well, a lot. We’ve had a local manufacturer come to us and say, “We need people to be able to work on our equipment.” It’s kind of been a year-and-a-half long process. There are about 50-some dealers within 100 miles of East Peoria. They need people who have been trained to work on this type of equipment.

What we really like about this program is that the students are being trained very broadly. A lot of the information that we teach applies to John Deere and Precision Planting. If it’s in the ag world, these concepts apply to that equipment.

Along with that, what will an average day look like for students in your program? I’m guessing it’s a very hands-on degree?

Typically, the way it breaks down is that nearly two-thirds of the classes are spent out in the lab working on the machine with their hands.

These guys are going to have tool sets, we’ll be tearing the machinery apart. And that tends to be a really good draw for us. That helps our recruitment, because there’s a big section of high school students that want that hands-on.

And finally, what are your goals for this program? What do you hope to accomplish?

This program is really suited for someone who likes to work with their hands and doesn’t mind being outside. We really wanted it to be something where people can embrace it and move on. Hopefully, then they can find a really high-wage job at the end of it. There’s certainly room for lots of growth beyond the $50-$60k range.

Original Article by Kinsey Reliford/WCBU