Technology and the Changing Landscape of Agriculture

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EICC_agGrowing Futures Since 1965

When many think of farming in the Midwest, they don’t realize how technologically and scientifically based the industry has become. The introduction of Global Positioning Systems (GPS) technology, precision farming and the application of marketing, ag business and science to the study of agriculture, have transformed the traditional agricultural economy.

WhitleyforAGarticleEastern Iowa Community Colleges Agriculture programs, located at Muscatine Community College (MCC), are at the forefront of science and technology. The variety of the programs and the depth of the college’s talented faculty show a farming industry that has gone beyond the traditional, long hot days in the summer sun.

EICC students are learning the latest in retail agribusiness, farm operations, crop and livestock production, animal nutrition and much more. “The education I am receiving at MCC is providing me with the knowledge, understanding and skills I’m going to need to succeed as a farmer,” says Mason Fullerton from Biggsville, IL. “They have good teachers, a friendly environment and class sizes that mean you get personal attention.”

For more information, visit eicc.edu/agcareers.

Career placement for graduates seeking meaningful employment is virtually 100%, notes Paul Martin, a long time faculty member with the Agriculture Science and Technology Department at MCC. “The industry has a huge demand for qualified personnel,” he adds. Ag remains a growing field, expecting to grow by about 6 percent in the coming years. “Our focus is on professional training – a combination of classroom and real world field experiences,” notes Paul. And when he says ‘field experiences’, he really means actual field experiences! “Not only do we bring industry to the students, but we bring students to industry.”

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Students attending annual Field Day at Monsanto in Muscatine

Graduating students will accumulate an average of 2000 hours of documented work experience. Students are directly involved in selecting their field experience so they can customize their learning opportunities. “Getting the opportunity to work at test plots last spring was very beneficial to me since it is involved in my career goal,” explains student Whitley Frieden from Joy, IL. “It was a great learning experience and a lot of fun, too.”  More importantly, students EARN while they learn. According to Paul, the average student earns $18,000 during these internships – with an affordable tuition rate, this means students can graduate with NO debt and actually pay for their tuition through their internships. Wade Gerlach, an Ag student from Delmar, IA says, “Why only pay for college when you can earn money working and learning in the industry? It’s a great opportunity.” Paul also points out that EICC now offers reduced tuition for students residing in bordering Illinois counties – a savings that adds up to more than 20% over EICC’s former out-of-state tuition.

MCC is an affiliate college of National Postsecondary Agricultural Students or PAS. EICC students in agriculture programs – including a number of international students – have won a bevy of awards in the past decade, including top honors in regional, national and even international competitions. PAS is a proving ground for MCC members, similar to a collegiate level Future Farmers of America (FFA). “We participate in competitive events to allow students to improve their self-worth and to see how well they stack up against other students,” says Paul. “They always make us proud.”

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Mason Fullerton, MCC Ag Student.

Knowledgeable EICC instructors and access to advanced facilities like the Muscatine Agricultural Learning Center which features an indoor arena, horse stalls, cattle pens and classrooms – including the MCC Veterinary Technician program – give students the solid academic preparation they need to be successful, taking a hands-on approach to learning. “Our staff all have a farming background and some are also MCC grads,” says Paul. “We are committed to agriculture and to helping our students succeed. We see great opportunities in this industry and do our best to prepare our students to be ready for the ever changing technology and demands it takes to feed the world.”

For more information, visit eicc.edu/agcareers. You can also check out the Ag program on Facebook at Muscatine Community College Agriculture.

Is a Career in Agriculture Technology Right for You?

Agribusiness Management

Agribusiness Management is a comprehensive two-year retail agricultural and ag supply business management program.

  • Feed and Seed
  • Fertilizer
  • Fuel
  • Crop Protection
  • Operations and Management

These are emphasized and critical to retail agribusiness success. Marketing, resource management and risk management are also included as well as sales and human relations. Instructional staff is constantly bringing updated technical information to the students in order to keep them abreast of rapidly changing technology in the business.

Farm Management

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Ag student Luke Nagle assesses nitrogen levels using a chlorophyll meter

The EICC Farm Management program is a comprehensive 2-year agricultural production program that includes professional training in the classroom and real world experiences.

  • Multiple Production-Related Courses
  • Multiple Livestock Production Courses
  • Marketing
  • Risk Management
  • Financial Management

The program has highly technical coursework based on industry standards. Professional organizations are included for developing technical skills and leadership. Area agricultural leaders serve as advisory committee members to guide the growth of the program.

These challenging careers could be a good fit for you if you have a compassion for the outdoors, animals, our world and the land. Today, working in agriculture can mean being a chemist, an aerial pesticide applicator, a specialist in livestock management, an agri-business manager, a seed packing plant operator or a lab technician.

All of these options require an inquisitive mind, a willingness to work in an outdoor environment, and the ability to work both independently and successfully on a team.

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