OGLESBY – Illinois Valley Community College’s agriculture program recently received a $25,000 grant from Compeer Financial’s Agriculture and Rural Initiative for equipment, technology, student engagement and retention.
IVCC President Jerry Corcoran said, “Thanks to the leadership shown by Compeer Financial, students can rest assured they’ll have a first-class experience when choosing IVCC agriculture as their program of study.”
Compeer representative Karen Schieler said, “Developing our agriculture workforce is a priority to our client-owners. Supporting vocational agricultural education at community and technical colleges is a focus of our Agriculture and Rural Initiative.
“Community colleges like IVCC are providing the essential hands-on educational experiences that excite young people to pursue their passion and careers in agriculture,” Schieler said.
The grant provides equipment for crops, soils and precision ag labs. Specifically, the first $10,000 installment will purchase a weather station, chlorophyll meter, stereo microscopes and soil probes, compaction testers and infrared thermometers.
The remaining $15,000, coming in $7,500 increments in 2022 and 2023, supports efforts to grow student participation in the IVCC Ag Club,the state student ag organization and the LaSalle County Farm Bureau Young Leaders/Collegiate Farm Bureau.
In addition, it will provide funding for students and instructors to attend the annual North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture (NACTA) Student Judging Conference.
“Our goal is to engage students in our club and provide the opportunity for them to participate at the state and national level,” IVCC ag instructor Caitlinn Hubbell said.
Instructor Willard Mott added, “Students are often motivated to enter the ag industry because of the people they meet along the way and the experiences they have in high school and college.”
Corcoran credited Mott and Hubbell for the program’s growing enrollment and for helping place graduates in good jobs.
Ag enrollment has grown from nine students in Fall 2016 to 56 this fall and ag scholarships have increased from $3,000 to more than $70,000.
Mott said, “In terms of job placement, all our graduates have found employment or transferred to a university to pursue a bachelor’s degree.”
Ag graduates are currently working for U.S. Department of Agriculture-Natural Resource Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS), Troy Grove Elevator, Northern Partners Cooperative, Ag View FS, and Wilbur-Ellis, among others.
“I am proud of the impact IVCC agriculture is making in the district,” Corcoran said.
Since December 2019, IVCC’s ag department has received three Compeer Financial grants totaling $40,000, including $10,000 for biotechnology equipment in June 2020, in addition to annual scholarship support.
Over the next five years, Compeer Financial is providing two, $1,250 scholarships each year to students studying agriculture at IVCC.