US (IL): College program plants seeds of confidence for a career in agriculture

The Entrepreneurial Agriculture program at McHenry County College has been making a significant impact on students and the community since its inception just two years ago. Through a combination of food production training, business education, and connections with local growers, the program prepares both degree-seeking students and food and farm innovators for a successful and rewarding future in the regional food economy.

"Over the past several years, we've seen a renewed interest in the farm-to-table movement and people wanting to know where their food comes from," said Garrett Beier, department chair of Entrepreneurial Agriculture and Horticulture at MCC. "Many people in our community either come from a farming background but need the business courses to help them market their goods or have an interest in food/farming but need some formal training on the growing process and the industry."

For those who think this type of career might be a good fit for them, Beier suggests a few introductory classes, including Introduction to Agriculture, Introductory Agriculture Practicum, and Plant Science. "Students who choose this track could pursue a career in many areas of agriculture, including crops, livestock, food production, and more," said Beier. "It's a great starting point if you think you might be interested in something like this but aren't sure what specific area yet."

On the horticulture side, the college offers classes in Landscape and Floral Design as well as a new class, Specialty Crops, which will introduce students to mushroom, hops, and fruit production.

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