After a year and a half’s work, the National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded BRTC $197,938 to offer a 1-year Technical Certificate in Precision Agriculture. BRTC will be the first Arkansas college or university to offer a technician-level degree in precision agriculture.
The precision ag degree will include instruction in geo-spatial, welding, hydraulic, electrical, and computer skills, and as a whole or in part may apply toward an associate degree or independently will produce qualified precision ag technicians. The program is designed to improve the NEA’s agricultural productivity, increasing the education and employability of local workforces while providing pathways for students interested in higher agricultural education.
“We have worked very hard on this project,” said Dr. Roger Johnson, Vice President of General Education and administrator of the grant, “and have worked closely with local agriculture professionals in Clay, Green, Lawrence, and Randolph counties to make sure the degree addresses the needs they have in the local workforce. We are extremely excited to use NSF funds to make precision ag training a reality for Northeast Arkansas and Southeast Missouri.”
The principle investigator of the grant is Rex Flagg, BRTC science department head and biology instructor. The co- principle investigator is Rickie Gunn, BRTC welding instructor. The administrator is Dr. Roger Johnson, Vice President of General Education, and the grant was written by Karen Liebhaber, Vice President of Institutional Advancement.
BRTC currently offers a 2-year Associate of Science in Agriculture which will transfer directly to ASU and Central Methodist University’s online bachelor program. The degree may also transfer to other Arkansas 4-year colleges. The Technical Certificate in Precision Agriculture may lead directly into the Associate of Science in Agriculture or may be used independently for career-based technician work in the area.
Several scholarships for agriculture at BRTC are available.
For more information, visit the website at http://www.blackrivertech.org/academics/agriculture or contact Donna Statler at 870-248-4000.