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Instructor, students share successes of Minnesota West ag program

Program's principal goal is to fulfill the demand of agriculture professionals with well-qualified individuals

031721.O.DG.MNWESTCOLUMN
Jeff Rogers

WORTHINGTON — Approximately 35 years ago, I made a decision to attend Worthington Community College. It was one of the best decisions of my life. Not knowing what life would hold, wanting to explore career options, affordable education, a smaller college atmosphere and playing baseball were all factors involved in my choice for community college.

Although no longer Worthington Community College but Minnesota West Community and Technical College, these are still considerations young adults make as they choose their educational goals. I am proud to say I am now the agriculture instructor at Minnesota West, and my students make it a very rewarding career.

Minnesota West's agriculture program’s principal goal is to fulfill the demand of agriculture professionals with well-qualified individuals. The pathway to complete this mission varies, but they all lead to the common goal: preparing students to enter the workforce in the agriculture industry. Minnesota West offers students the ability to enroll in programs from transfer pathways seeking four-year degrees to programs that are predominantly technical education.

The transfer student completes two years of education at Minnesota West and earns their associate of science (A.S.) degree before transferring to a four-year university to pursue their bachelor degree. Articulation agreements with four-year universities make for a seamless transition with benefits of community college experience. Some of these benefits are to explore the agriculture industry, experience applied coursework, minimize the cost of college, and enjoy a more personalized experience with classmates and instructors.

“I graduated from Minnesota West in 2015 with an A.S. degree in ag production management," Bridget Kramer recalls. "I chose to continue my education at SDSU in Brookings, South Dakota after graduation. Thanks to Minnesota West and the helpful advisors there, the transfer of my credits to SDSU worked out great. It also saved me a lot of money and time.

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"Minnesota West was also a great place to start out as the small class sizes helped forge a relationship with both teachers and fellow students that I continue to benefit from," Kramer adds. "I graduated from SDSU with my B.S. degree in animal science in 2016, and I currently work for Newport Labs in Worthington in the quality department. I also raise crops, cattle and sheep with my husband on his family farm, who was also an Agriculture graduate from Minnesota West.”

Students also have the option to complete two years of education for an associate of applied science degree. (A.A.S.) This program is meant for students to enter the work force upon graduation, but it also allows them to transfer to universities who support applied sciences. Minnesota West agriculture program prides itself on preparing students with applied training to take to the field. Throughout their education, students are exposed to industry professionals and career opportunities in a variety of ways. Industry field labs, research plots, guest speakers, farm shows and more are all part of the curriculum.

“I enjoy the agriculture program at Minnesota West because it provides me the opportunity to question and have one on one discussions with my instructors," explains 2021 A.A.S. graduate Jazmin Voehl of Sioux Valley. " I love how I get to connect and know everyone in my courses on a personal level and the hands on active learning. This program has prepared me for my agronomy career at Crystal Valley Coop after graduation in many ways such as enhancing my knowledge in the agriculture industry, networking with professionals and communication skills.”

Technical education is a priority in the Minnesota West agriculture program. Individuals planning to fulfill their career objectives in production agriculture have the option to complete our Production Agriculture Diploma program. Students enrolling in this program will concentrate on agriculture studies in areas such as farm management, ag marketing, agronomy, animal science and precision agriculture.

“I really enjoyed my time at Minnesota West," says Slade Harder of Mountain Lake, who earned a production agriculture diploma at Minnesota West. "Their ag production program was extremely helpful and practical in preparing me to return to the family farm. The professors were also very personable and willing to help answer any questions we had."

The Minnesota West agriculture program is student-centered. Flexibility, time management, integrity of coursework and smooth transition to four-year colleges are all part of the decision-making process when scheduling courses. In addition to our regular course schedule, we offer a five-week harvest online schedule during the fall semester. Five weeks of our regularly scheduled courses are taught through distant learning to provide opportunity for students to enhance their education through application at their farm business, internship or fulfilling their work schedule in an agriculture business.

Jeff Rogers is an agriculture instructor at Minnesota West.

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