Posted: Thursday, June 09, 2011 1:00 PM
Number of students grows rapidly in past few years
By ROXANNE GAIL BEACH
For the Capital Press
The College of Western Idaho will offer professional technical education degrees and a new agriculture associate of science degree starting fall 2011.
Vince Matthews, director of USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service Idaho Field Office, said agriculture continues to be a major contributor to Idaho's economy, providing steady growth in the face of difficulties in other sectors.
"These training programs will provide the technical expertise needed in areas such as on-farm energy production and improved irrigation technology," he said.
CWI spokesperson Jennifer Couch said the college expects a huge response to the new agricultural science program, which will provide students an education on the principles and techniques of agronomy, animal behavior and plant genetics.
"The program will prepare students to work in a variety of agriculture-related jobs or transfer to a four-year university to complete a bachelor's degree," she said.
CWI was created as a community college during a vote of residents in the western Treasure Valley near Boise.
CWI welcomed its first students in January 2008, initially offering certificate classes and fast-track career training and noncredit programs. In January 2009, it offered its first academic courses and by July 2009 Boise State University transferred its technical program, Selland College of Applied Technology, and staff to CWI. It has grown from an initial enrollment of 1,208 to a current enrollment of 7,308.
Part of that growth is due to the college's work with local and international businesses. CWI's Diesel Technology program recently formed a partnership with AGCO Corp., a Duluth, Ga.-based company, to house its regional training center in the Diesel Technology Building on BSU's campus.
AGCO is a manufacturer of agricultural equipment known for four global brands: Challenger, Fendt, Massey Ferguson and Valtra. The partnership provides the college with modern equipment for student training.
Formerly AGCO used the training center about once a year. Russ Goertzen, AGCO training coordinator, said the earlier training sessions drew more participants than it could handle. Now it will be able to offer training to their local and national dealer technicians approximately two weeks per month.
"It is a pilot program for both of us," Couch said. "AGCO is paying for the instructor, supplying equipment for training and paying other fees for facilities and administration."
Courses for both the PTE and the new associates of science agricultural degree will cost $136 per credit for Idaho residents.
The new agriculture degree will specialize in plant science, animal science, animal anatomy and physiology, irrigation systems, general soils and fundamentals of geographic information systems.
CWI President Bert Glandon said the college is dedicated to training and graduating individuals that will be able to enter the workforce upon graduation or transfer on to pursue a bachelors degree.
"Agricultural, natural resource, food, and related sciences are still as critical today as they ever have been," Glandon said.