Ashland Community and Technical College is starting two certificate programs this fall that focus on agriculture and horticulture.
The new programs, Agricultural Technician and Nursery Production, reflect a growing interest in natural growing techniques and organic foods as well as the national focus on green technologies and renewable resources.
We have had numerous requests from area high schools about offering college courses for students interested in agricultural fields, said Janie Kitchen, Dean of Academic Affairs.
Discussion with area County Extension Agents and a review of the current data suggested a need for current farming ventures to improve quality and production. The 2007 USDA Census of Agriculture showed that since 2002 the market value of products sold in Boyd County increased by 48 percent and increased in Carter County by 12 percent.
Additional USDA statistics for these same counties show that approximately half of the agriculture operators have primary occupations other than farming. This indicates a need for shorter term educational experiences if they are to improve their agriculture knowledge through an academic program.
Lawrence and Greenup counties ranked 20th and 21st in production of vegetables, melons, potatoes and sweet potatoes in the state. All counties in the area have shown an increased interest in farmers markets, which parallels an increased interest in organic, home-grown produce by consumers and amateur gardeners.
The Agricultural Technician program prepares students for a wide variety of jobs on commercial farms and agriculture-related businesses. The curriculum addresses theory, skills and techniques required by the agricultural industry.
The 24 credit program includes courses in Issues in Agriculture, Agricultural Power, Career Development in Agriculture, Intro to Fertilizers and Soils, Intro to Equipment and Machines, Intro to Computers and Agricultural Internships.
The Agricultural Technician program introduces tools and techniques in farming that could be applied in other agricultural fields, such as agribusiness, natural resources management, forestry, food science, food science, and fisheries and wildlife management.
The Nursery Production program provides students with knowledge and skills needed for careers in greenhouse and nursery operations. Students acquire practical experience in plant production and business management.
The 20 credit program includes courses in Introduction to Woody Plants, Intro to Herbaceous Plants, Nursery Management, Greenhouse Management and Landscape Design.
Nursery Production is a horticultural program. Horticulture involves the planting, propagation and care of ornamental and edible plants in gardens and nurseries. Horticulturists may work in industry, government or educational institutions as plant specialists, engineers, inspectors or managers.
Both programs provide knowledge and skills that can be used immediately in a farm or nursery setting. The programs also give students the chance to explore their options for careers in agricultural-related fields. The classes can be integrated into an associate degree program, and those who seek a bachelors degree can start at ACTC and transfer their courses to a university.
Classes for both programs will be held at the Technology Drive Campus, located just off the Industrial Parkway (KY 67).
In a related development, ACTC is in the process of organizing an Future Farmers of America (FFA) chapter to provide students with activities that help them explore agricultural fields and develop professional skills.
For details on the new programs, contact John McGlone, email: email@example.com or call 606-326-2400.
August 8 is the application deadline for fall semester classes. Admissions information and application forms are on the web at: ashland.kctcs.edu. Applications may be submitted online or mailed to the Admissions Office at either the Technology Drive Campus or College Drive Campus.
New students may also want to apply for financial aid. The steps to take in applying for financial aid are also on the ACTC website. For more information on Admissions, call 606-326-2000 or for Financial Aid information, call 600-326-2198.