Capital Press | Ag Education Capital Press Wed, 4 May 2016 03:01:51 -0400 en Capital Press | Ag Education Blue Mountain Community College turns techies into aggies Thu, 14 May 2015 13:18:15 -0400 Did you know that video games and agriculture have something in common? Well, they do! I’m not talking about some absurd game or reality TV show either ... I’m talking technology. The technology that often confounds or frustrates the older, wiser generations is helping to propel agriculture into the next level of prosperity ... and precision. This is why all generations of agriculturalists are adopting different aspects of precision agriculture, not only in Oregon but across the country.

While the most entertaining tool in precision agriculture, the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV, a.k.a. drone) is attracting loads of attention, practical application of miniature helicopters in agriculture is still in its infancy. However, there are several tools that are much more advanced, and they save money, too. For example, the increasingly popular GPS steering systems that can be installed on tractors, planters and combines actually add up to big savings, often enough to pay off the initial investment in only a few years! They save in: fuel, fertilizer, pesticides and crop loss due to missed swathes or overlap. For those of us who are irrigators, you can now monitor and control your irrigation from your smartphone! Oh, and you can irrigate those low spots less and those dry spots more! Similar technology exists for variable rate applications of fertilizer and seed. With all this technology, we are bound to experience some benefits and savings, but we’re also doomed to deal with technology failures.

Failing and advancing technology is the focus of the new precision irrigated agriculture program at Blue Mountain Community College (BMCC). While the older, wiser generations have readily adopted this new technology, few graduates or current agricultural workers have the skills to operate, maintain, and, yes, repair precision ag technology. The demand for technically skilled laborers in our region, across the country, and internationally is high, and it’s projected to increase by about 14 percent in the next 10 years. In response, BMCC developed a new program to meet local needs and provide the masses of tech-savvy high school graduates with some profitable and productive career paths. Currently, a two-year, associate’s degree in precision ag is sufficient to get graduates into positions with starting salaries of about $30,000, but with the potential to earn over $65,000 as they gain experience.

The new precision ag program at BMCC offers students three different career paths: precision irrigation maintenance, data analyst and farm management. All three pathways provide students with the skills to work safely and efficiently in an agricultural setting, troubleshoot new variable rate technologies, and develop recommendations using precision ag tools. Students are also required to engage with the industry through internships and work experience. This new program does not require many additional resources or courses. A partnership with Oregon State University Hermiston Agricultural Research and Extension Center has provided a number of new center pivots for hands-on learning as well as land for the Precision Ag Center that is proposed in the May 19 BMCC Bond. Local businesses and dealerships have also stepped up to provide access to new equipment for students. The program integrates nicely with BMCC’s current and outstanding agriculture program, as well as the new mechatronics program, which uses similar technology in agricultural and industrial processing. Additionally, the precision ag curriculum is designed for both current ag workers and traditional students, offering many of the new courses online and on-campus. While the precision irrigated ag program doesn’t start until the fall, BMCC offered a short course this spring that was met with great success. Soon-to-be graduates had the opportunity to gain hands-on experience and training in some of the basic concepts and technologies used in precision ag. Blue Mountain looks forward to welcoming the first cohort of precision irrigated ag students, from all walks of life, this fall!

If you are interested in more information regarding enrollment or financial aid opportunities for the new precision irrigated agriculture program, please contact Alex Murphy at 541-278-5781 or

At OSU, the world is your classroom Thu, 14 May 2015 13:16:25 -0400 There are no walls holding back ag sciences students at Oregon State University.

They are studying seals in Antarctica, mangroves in Honduras, and the international wheat market.

And they are engaged in real-world, hands-on research here in Oregon, too, in laboratories across campus and at twelve experiment stations in every corner of the state.

The College of Agricultural Sciences at OSU is growing fast, preparing leaders for the 21st century. Students study food and beverage technology, plant breeding, wildlife science, and molecular toxicology, among many other topics that are critical to feed the world, protect the environment, and improve quality of life.

Our students are changing the world. Right here. Right now.

For more information, see

Precision ag takes off at Walla Walla Community College Thu, 14 May 2015 13:14:11 -0400 Walla Walla Community College’s Precision Agriculture program is growing the future. Drone land and crop monitoring, computerized mapping systems, high tech controls, sensors, monitoring systems and guidance systems help the modern farmer continuously produce more food, fiber and fuel. Modern farmers know that new technology increases their efficiency.

WWCC Precision Ag courses include up-to-the-minute information on field maps, mapping programs and asset mapping strategies. Aerial imagery of planting, spraying and harvesting is popular with the students. They learn that yield data and soil lab data are essential for growing a better tomorrow.

WWCC Precision Agriculture Instructor Mike Hagerman says, “Precision Agriculture is much more than particular practices used by modern farmers. With today’s technology we can divide a single field in to separate management zones based on inherent variability. Growers are increasing yields, leaving smaller carbon footprints, and applying fewer chemicals, all in addition to saving time and money.”

Jerry Anhorn Jr., Dean of Agriculture, Energy and Natural Resources at WWCC, is bullish on Precision Agriculture education. He says, “Send your sons and daughters to WWCC. Your agriculture enterprise will definitely benefit from their education here.”

Agriculture instructor Matt Williams says, “One of the greatest benefits of learning at WWCC is that everything is so hands-on. The students are learning not just from instructors but from practitioners. For instance in our Animal Science area Tyler Cox is a working cattle rancher who teaches two courses for us. Debbie Frazier comes from a local family farm and she is our Ag Business instructor. I work summers as an agronomist with local firms. This sets us apart from a lot of other institutions. We truly do practice what we preach.”

Dean Jerry Anhorn is enthusiastic on the employability of Precision Ag graduates. He says, “There are hundreds or even thousands of careers in Agriculture. Computer driven tractors, combines, and systems are all tied together. Who’s going to run and understand that stuff? We need tech-savvy people to do that! Precision Ag graduates will get more than living wage jobs and the industry is screaming for these people. Agriculture touches every part of our economy in the United States, plain and simple.”

Jerry Anhorn can be reached at or by calling 509-524-4809.

Klamath Community College gives ag students a head start Thu, 14 May 2015 13:13:02 -0400 Klamath Community College’s Department of Agriculture Science and Business provides students access to training in agricultural business and economics, crop science, and animal science leading to workforce and transfer success.

The Department works closely with 4-year partner institutions to improve access to advanced degrees. Further, the Agricultural Sciences Department works closely with high schools to facilitate student transition from secondary to higher education and the workforce by career planning, program planning, and dual credit.

Program studies prepare students for career opportunities as Agriculture Loan Officer, Agriculture Teacher, Farm and Ranch Manager, Forest Management Specialist, Geologist, and Water Resource Manager.

By collaborating with the local community, state and national agricultural organizations to involve students in activities and industries, the Department promotes success for students pursuing careers in Agriculture.

KCC offers students an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) Degree in Agriculture Science. This degree is closely aligned with both the Oregon and national standard for agriculture and natural resources and is designed to provide students with the skills and knowledge necessary to be successful as an entrepreneur, employee, or as a student at a four-year institution. A variety of resources are utilized by students including on-campus labs, the Learning Resource Center and off-campus work experience.

Graduates can also earn a bachelor’s degree from Oregon State University in Agriculture Science, receiving on-the-ground mentoring and support during their studies — without leaving Klamath Falls.

For more information, contact Keith Duren, Program Lead, telephone 541-880-2254 or email Klamath Community College is located at 7390 S. Sixth St., Klamath Falls, OR 97603.

Agricultural Education thrives at the University of Idaho Thu, 14 May 2015 13:08:23 -0400 The Agricultural Education program at the University of Idaho continues to be a leader in teacher education in agriculture. The faculty in the Department of Agricultural and Extension Education work with undergraduates and graduate students preparing to become secondary agriculture teachers.

University of Idaho Agricultural Education majors have numerous opportunities to gain experiences throughout the year. Students assist with the FFA District and State Career Development Events, assist with the Idaho and Washington FFA State Leadership Conferences, and help run events at the National FFA Convention each fall. Four professors in Agricultural Education coordinate National FFA Career Development Events at the convention.

Agricultural Education majors also participate in the undergraduate research program in the department. Ag Ed majors’ research projects have been presented at the university research symposium, regional and national research conferences. Teacher Candidates also participate in the Collegiate FFA Chapter in the department which was recently recognized as the Club of the Year in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences.

Our students do amazing things at the college and university levels. Maggie Elliot of Prosser, Washington, received the CALS Outstanding Freshman Award. Seth Pratt, former National FFA Officer from Blackfoot, Idaho, was recognized as the CALS Outstanding Senior. The department’s faculty has also been recognized for their outstanding service. Dr. Allison Touchstone received the R.M. Wade Excellence in Teaching Award in the college in 2014 and Dr. Jeremy Falk received the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture Teaching Award of Merit in 2015.

The Agricultural Education program continues to graduate outstanding Teacher Candidates for agricultural education positions. Eighteen Teacher Candidates are being placed in Idaho, Washington, Oregon and Alaska schools for their student-teaching in 2015-2016. Recent graduates are teaching agriculture or science in Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Colorado, North Dakota and Alaska.

The Agricultural Education program at the University of Idaho continues to produce outstanding secondary agricultural teachers/FFA Advisors for schools throughout the Pacific Northwest and across the country. Come join us at the University of Idaho.

MSU-Northern degree in diesel technology opens doors Thu, 14 May 2015 13:07:23 -0400 A career in diesel technology opens doors to many types of high-paying jobs, from working at ag equipment dealerships to construction, mining, and forestry equipment, or return to the farming operation.

Larry Strizich, dean of the College of Technical Sciences at Montana State University-Northern, said, “Students with a degree in Diesel Technology are in high demand with major businesses and corporations. There are a lot of career opportunities with this degree.”

Students in Diesel Technology have several different options within their studies at MSU-Northern. They can obtain a one-year certificate, a two-year associate’s degree and a four-year bachelor’s degree.

“Montana State University-Northern is recognized as a leading Diesel Technician college by industry leaders. We are one of the best — and one of the few — 4-year Diesel Technology campuses in the nation. We are expanding and growing. Currently, there are about 250 students in the Diesel Technology programs, which is one of our largest programs,” Strizich said, adding that each year they have a career day where 30-35 corporations fly in and interview students for jobs and internships. “It is not unusual that students will receive more than one job offer that is a high-paying position with excellent benefits.

“Graduates are well prepared to work in the diesel industry in a variety of occupations. We place emphasis on electronics and diagnostics along with the fundamentals of engines, fuel systems, heating and air conditioning, hydraulics, power trains, brakes and chassis repair,” Strizich said.

The college works closely with major farm implement and construction equipment dealerships to provide machinery for the students to work with. The loaned pieces of equipment, whether they are tractors, combines, sprayers, excavators, graders or some other machine, are always “brand new,” the latest model available, and loaded with updated computer software, GPS and control systems to perform diagnostics on.

“Students coming here will work and learn on the very latest Ag and construction equipment technology available. Students can get in the equipment, start it, run it, run diagnostics on it, and learn to operate all the computer systems,” Strizich continued.

To keep abreast with the technology, MSU-Northern faculty annually attend farm implement and other technology clinics at dealerships across the region to keep them updated with the very latest information to teach to their students.

Strizich explained that one of the main things students in the Diesel Technology programs learn is “be a life-long learner. They learn where to go for the information they will need for the rest of their life in whatever career they choose.”

“The Diesel Technology field is experiencing rapid growth as extraction industries boom, and MSU-Northern is the place to go for great opportunities in the industry,” he concluded.

MSU-Northern is in Havre, Montana.

OXARC welding schools held at two locations Thu, 14 May 2015 13:06:28 -0400 Classes start every Monday at two locations, in Spokane and Pasco, Wash. Investing in education is a serious decision. When you explore training options that may increase your salary level and employment potential you are, in effect, investing in yourself. At OXARC, we encourage a student population of responsible adults because we know that they are the best learners. When personal success is the end product of the training process, it virtually guarantees the success of any academic program.

At OXARC, we concentrate on job-specific training. Our welder training program is based on industry needs. As industry makes changes and new technologies are developed, the welder training program at OXARC will be updated to keep pace with these changes. Our goal is to provide quality training in key skill areas in the most practical, justifiable timeframe. We will concentrate on making your welding experience meaningful and enjoyable.

Our welding courses are for the self-motivated adult who recognizes the need to keep ahead of the job market. By keeping up with the welding standards in the industry, you will experience career satisfaction and enjoy the economic and social rewards of a position ideally suited to your interests and abilities.

Experience-based education at OXARC offers all training sessions in a stand-up lecture basis with an emphasis on hands-on experience learning. This methodology ensures that students receive the technical industry terminology and standards while learning hands-on skills.

We believe that all students should have the opportunity to develop the fundamental and technical skills that will enable them to secure and retain productive and rewarding career positions in the welding industry. OXARC is committed to providing welding courses that deliver the maximum amount of training in the minimum amount of time, with safety and quality as our goal. The dedication to the overall success of each student forces OXARC to continually strive to maintain its reputation of delivering the highest quality training possible through a combination of qualified, experienced staff; well-organized curricula and contemporary equipment, which reflect current industry standards.

In keeping with its mission and purpose, OXARC strives to:

1) Educate and train students with the current welding equipment found in today’s environment;

2) Assist students in developing their technical skills to meet industry standards;

3) Provide students with the most skilled and experienced staff available who are devoted to the personal and career development of every student.

Training Courses

OXARC offers multiple welding classes at three different levels and welding processes (Stick, Dual Shield/Inner Shield, Mig or Tig). Courses are designed around the most common industry standards: AWS, ASME, API 1104, WABO Welding. Certifications upon completion. For more information call 509-535-7794 or visit “Welding Schools” online at

Teacher takes unique route to classroom Thu, 14 May 2015 12:51:44 -0400 MITCH LIES SALEM — Joleen Schilling frequently tells her students that it’s all right to deviate from a career path.

“It’s not a straight path,” said Schilling, who began teaching in Chemeketa Community College’s agricultural sciences program in September. “That’s what I tell my students all the time. You don’t have to take a straight path through life. You can deviate.”

Schilling bases her comments on experience.

Although she knew at the age of 15 that she wanted to work with plants, Schilling deviated at one point into the environmental sciences, even getting a master’s degree in the field from Oregon State University and working for the Corvallis Environmental Center for a brief stint.

“I quickly learned that nonprofits are not for me,” she said.

Schilling has a bachelor’s degree in horticulture science, also from OSU.

She discovered her love for teaching while in the graduate studies program at OSU.

“I had a graduate teaching assistantship that helped pay for my graduate degree,” Schilling said, “and when I worked my first class, Biology 101, I thought: ‘This is amazing.’ That is when I realized I could combine the two, horticulture and teaching.”

Schilling went on to teach part-time at Linn-Benton Community College while working full-time at Garland Nursery in Corvallis. Then in 2011, Schilling spent a year working full-time in the agricultural sciences program at Linn-Benton, filling in for the chair, who took a one-year sabbatical.

“That is when I made it my goal to find a full-time teaching position, knowing that that is what I am passionate about,” she said.

Finally, in July of last year, Schilling had her full-time teaching post, taking over for horticultural instructor Gail Gredler, who retired after seven years in the post.

Joel Keebler, director of Chemeketa’s agricultural sciences program, said Schilling is a good fit to continue and expand the horticulture program that Gredler started.

“Joleen has been deeply connected with the nursery industry in the Willamette Valley for more than 10 years,” Keebler said, “and we are very excited about the experience and energy she brings to our up-and-coming horticulture program.”

One of Schilling’s first tasks, Keebler said, is to create a bridge between Chemeketa’s horticulture program and OSU’s so students can transfer agricultural science credits from Chemeketa to OSU.

The community college’s horticulture program currently offers only an applied science degree, one that is designed to prepare students for work, not for transferring credits.

“We see a good potential for growth in our horticulture program in connecting with Oregon State University,” Keebler said.

Schilling said she welcomes the challenge.

After all, she said, one thing a circuitous path teaches those who traverse it is an enthusiasm for embracing challenges.

“It feels sometimes surreal,” Schilling said, when asked how she feels about obtaining what she calls her ‘dream job.’ “I didn’t take a very straight path, which makes me feel pretty lucky.”