Ivy Tech will offer ‘Introduction to Agriculture’ in Warsaw

October 2nd, 2017

By Bob Caylor | The News-Sentinel

Agriculture arrives in Warsaw next year.

Farming, of course, has been a mainstay of life in Kosciusko County for as long as it’s been a county. What’s different next semester is that Ivy Tech Community College will add “Introduction to Agriculture” to its class offerings there.

The Warsaw Ivy Tech site offers a good selection of core classes students need for their associate degrees, said Kelli Kreider, agriculture program chair at the Fort Wayne Campus. Adding “Introduction to Agriculture” will enable those students to get a taste of course material for an associate’s degree in agriculture while they’re still closer to home.

Students who want to major in agriculture could then finish their associate’s degrees at the Fort Wayne campus of Ivy Tech. If the class proves popular in Warsaw, Kreider said, “eventually, I’d love for Warsaw students to be able to complete half their agriculture degree in Warsaw.”

Kreider said that offering the ag class in Warsaw, let alone expanding ag offerings there, hinges on whether enough students enroll. Based on the experience at Ivy Tech in Fort Wayne, the potential is worth exploring. The ag program in Fort Wayne started with seven students in 2013; now 70 are enrolled, she said.

Kosciusko County is an apt site to help students get a step ahead in learning about agriculture. It’s the second largest and second most-populous county in northeast Indiana. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, among Indiana counties, Kosciusko ranks fifth in production of cattle, fifth in land area used in farming, fifth in cash receipts from farm marketing and seventh in corn production.

Kreider said that students can earn two types of ag degrees at Ivy Tech. The associate of science degree is generally used to fulfill part of the requirements of a bachelor’s degree in agriculture from Purdue University, Trine University or Huntington University, among others. Its courses are weighted toward core degree requirements, with a lighter dose of agriculture courses.

The associate of applied science degree concentrates more on ag classes and less on general courses. It’s more often pursued by students who want to enter the workforce with an associate’s degree.

She’s found that among her students, perhaps half have some sort of connection to farming, such as living in a rural community. Only about a quarter come from farm families themselves.

“It is rare for my students to go back to the farm,” she said.

Instead, they pursue a range of agriculture-related careers, from banking and ag lending to ag sales to animal management.