The Wayne County Community College District (WCCCD) has announced that it will add a new horticulture education center at its Downriver Campus in Taylor. The $15 million center will include three greenhouses, a conservatory, three classrooms and a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) lab. There will also be a fenced outdoor garden and learning lab next to the greenhouses accommodating fruit trees and vegetables for some of the elective courses. Construction will begin in 2019 with the plan to open the center in 2020.

The new facility will be an integral part of certificate programs in fruit and vegetable crop management and in landscape management. WCCCD offers the certificate programs in partnership with the Institute of Agricultural Technology (IAT) at Michigan State University.

Jackie Grow (left) is the program coordinator for the MSU Institute of Agricultural Technology certificate programs offered at Wayne County Community College District. This is a student visit to Youngblood Vineyards in Ray, Michigan.

The IAT–WCCCD partnership allows students to earn a certificate from MSU while working toward an associate degree in general studies from WCCCD. Full-time students can complete the associate degree and certificate in two years.

“By working together, MSU and WCCCD are able to offer specialized training programs for high-demand jobs close to home and at a lower overall cost. Graduates will be prepared for rewarding job opportunities in agriculture or to transfer to another school to continue their education,” said Anthony Arminiak, president of the WCCCD Downriver Campus.

Workforce development around Michigan
The horticulture education center in Wayne County is one example of the growing education and training opportunities for the agricultural science industry in Michigan. The center will be used for the study of greenhouse technology, plant conservatory and student STEM  research. It will provide year-round opportunities for tours, workshops, seminars and partnerships for community enrichment.

“We are thrilled to offer a modern location where students and residents alike can study a field that has grown rapidly in interest and importance to our region, and the nation at large,” said Arminiak. “Michigan is a leader in agriculture and this center is directly in line with that interest and with our mission to provide pathways to better lives through higher education.”

The MSU Institute of Agricultural Technology program is another example supporting the workforce needs in Michigan.

The IAT collaborates with community colleges offering certificate programs that provide regionally relevant training that can lead to careers in some of the highest demand segments of the agriculture industry. These areas include commercial fruit and vegetable production, crop production and management services, farm operations, equipment sales and service, landscape design, construction management and greenhouse and field nursery operations.

The fruit and vegetable crop management and landscape management certificate programs combine classroom experience and professional internships. They provide practical knowledge and training on the selection, use and management of fruit and vegetable crops and landscape plants and lawns, respectively. Students obtain a working knowledge of plant growth, development and identification that prepares them for agriculture-related careers.

“We’re excited to bring together new chances for learning and professional internships in Wayne County through the horticulture education center and our ongoing commitment to the IAT programs,” said Jackie Grow, WCCCD program coordinator with IAT. “These programs offer career paths and opportunities in growing industries that promise stability and good salaries and will help keep talent in Michigan.”

Source: Michigan State University