MCC to welcome first Entrepreneurial Agriculture students
McHenry County College is getting ready to welcome its first Entrepreneurial Agriculture students this fall.
The program, announced last year in tandem with the college's new Center for Agrarian Learning, will prepare both degree-seeking students and food and farm innovators for a rewarding future in the regional food economy.
Through a combination of hands-on farming techniques and business and marketing classes, students will learn how to both grow crops and run a business. Prior to the program's inception, MCC spent over a year talking to local farmers and agricultural and business experts throughout McHenry County and the surrounding region to put together a curriculum that provides the training students need to make a difference in the world of food production.
"Our students will experience everything that goes into growing food -- from start to finish," said Emily Zack, farm practicum director for the Center for Agrarian Learning.
"In the classroom, they'll learn about basic growing and plant problems, and then have the opportunity to get their hands dirty in the student farm on campus. We've also incorporated business and marketing classes so students will be able to use this knowledge to create a profitable, scalable business."
In addition to the AAS in Entrepreneurial Agriculture, MCC offers certificates in Entrepreneurial Agriculture Business/Marketing and Entrepreneurial Agriculture Production. No prior experience is needed to join the programs.
"Anyone who is interested in any part of our food system -- someone who likes plants, working outside, or has an interest in environmental science and ecology -- would be an ideal candidate," said Zack.
"We teach every aspect, from saving seeds to soil health, harvest techniques to proper storage."
Using high tunnels, students will be growing vegetables into early winter and starting again in the late winter, making growing possible almost year-round.
"The possibilities are really endless with this degree," Zack said. "Our graduates can pursue a variety of exciting career paths, including farm ownership and operations, greenhouse management, landscaping, floral production and design, or even bookkeeping and marketing specific to farm businesses."
Zack, a McHenry County native, local farming entrepreneur, and college alum, joined MCC earlier this year.
"We are thrilled to have Emily Zack join our team as farm practicum director," said Sheri Doyel, director of the college's Center for Agrarian Learning.
"Her experience managing farms for nonprofits and educational institutions -- as well as running her own business -- makes her a great match for MCC. Emily is creative, resourceful, and focused on what the students need -- and it doesn't hurt that she can grow an amazing array of vegetables."
Students interested in learning more about the program can visit www.mchenry.edu/ag or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To accommodate students' learning preferences, MCC is delivering classes in five different ways this fall.
View all available modes of instruction and register at www.mchenry.edu/fall2020.