High school seniors Janine Leino of Deerwood and Robert Wicklund of Brainerd will receive $2,000 scholarships for their studies in a new agriculture education partnership between Central Lakes College and the University of Minnesota.
Leino, who graduates from Crosby-Ironton, and Wicklund, a 2000 graduate at Brainerd High School, won their awards from the Minnesota Agricultural Education Leadership Council. Parents are Richard and Eileen Leino and Jack and Gae Wicklund.
The CLC-U of M partnership provides expanded opportunity for a student to pursue studies locally en route to a bachelor's degree in agricultural education.
That appeals to both scholars. Leino will pursue animal science and agribusiness interests, while Wicklund said he intends to specialize in natural and environmental science.
Leino attends classes in animal science at the Brainerd High School Farm one hour each day. Wicklund, who is also attending CLC as a post-secondary enrollment option student, is in his fourth year of classes based on the farm.
The college-university pact has been in the works a long time, said Doug Keran, CLC vice president of academic affairs and architect of this "2 Plus 2" agreement. U of M President Mark Yudof three years ago issued his endorsement during a Brainerd campus visit.
Required courses at CLC
Agriculture education major, University of Minnesota/Central Lakes College program
Courses taken at Central Lakes College:
Year 1, fall semester
-- College Algebra/Finite
-- Composition I
-- Environmental Chemistry
-- Intro to Natural Resources
-- Intro to Ag Education & Extension
Year 1, spring semester
-- Environmental Biology
-- General Psychology I
-- Principles of Economics/Microeconomics
-- Soil Science
-- International Relations
-- Career Plan in Ag Profession
Year 2 -- fall semester
-- Environmental Physics
-- Fundamentals of Public Speaking
-- Intro to Horticulture
-- Wetland Ecology
-- Wildlife Management
Year 2 --spring semester
-- Landscaping for Wildlife
-- Fisheries Management
-- Ojibwe History or American Indian History
-- Survey of American Literature
-- Professional Practice Early Experience
State Sen. Dallas Sams, DFL-Staples, and state Rep. Steve Wenzel, DFL-Little Falls, spearheaded the initiative, said Sally Ihne, college president.
"This is the first, articulated teacher's prep arrangement for us," said Keran. "Our Brainerd campus, with natural and managed environmental education courses, fits well with the concept."
The first two years of study with the CLC curriculum will satisfy requirements to enter the university portion of the program and earn a bachelor's degree.
A major thrust of the compact is to increase the supply of teachers "so that more students in grades 5-12 across Minnesota may experience the context agriculture provides in making their education more meaningful," said Roland Peterson, head of the Division of Agriculture, Food, and Environmental Education at the U of M.
Keran said horticulture is an area in which CLC excels and will enrich the partnership. "We're witnessing growth in greenhouses and landscaping services on a national scale," he said. Also, students will find opportunity in pet stores and services, equine enterprises, and fish and wildlife agencies.
Primarily, the partnership is designed to help educate a society that deserves to be re-connected with the land, said Keran, who teaches general ecology at CLC and was a natural resources instructor before assuming administrative duties. "We ought not forget that much of our food comes from something other than a cellophane wrapper."
Wenzel said CLC is especially strong in environmental sciences and many Brainerd High School students become interested in agricultural education through the programs offered at the BHS Farm.
BHS Farm instructors Mark Haglin and Michael and Denise Reeser helped by informing their students and members of Future Farmers of America of the new opportunity to earn university credit in Brainerd.
High school instructors in agricultural studies are a threatened species. That's why rural legislators have gone to bat for initiatives such as the latest partnership.
"Teacher education will be a key to the new partnership," Wenzel said, "because the state continually has more new positions than available graduates for teachers of middle and high school agricultural education farm business management programs, and agribusiness needs."
Sams, who chairs the Senate Agriculture and Rural Development Committee, said, "We need more students in agricultural education to meet the needs of Minnesota's diverse agricultural economy. We have a tremendous worker shortage in general, and in the new high-tech agricultural fields this shortage is acute."
He said new partnerships and the new scholarship program, combined with efforts to retain funding for high school agriculture programs, will help to bring the highly trained personnel needed in Minnesota agriculture.
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