January 7, 2021
Photo: Rustin Jumps, NCMC Agriculture and Natural Resources Instructor and Barton Farm Manager
What a difference a year makes! Or shall I say 50 years! Trenton Junior College started the Agriculture Program in the 1970 – 1971 academic year, offering courses in the career path of Agri-Business. A couple of years later, the Production Agriculture Program was added. Let’s fast forward to academic year 2020 – 2021; what has changed? First of all, Trenton Junior College became North Central Missouri College in the late 1980s, and the agriculture program is no longer operated solely out of Geyer Hall. While it doesn’t seem possible, we are fast approaching the 10-year anniversary of the opening of the Elizabeth and Arthur Barton Farm Campus in August 2021. As the years have passed, the NCMC Agriculture Program has continually changed to provide more applied learning opportunities for our students, ranging from precision technologies to livestock management; however, some things have stayed the same, going back to our agriculture program roots of the early 1970s. Production agriculture and agri-business is still the backbone of our service region, as well as the state of Missouri. The NCMC Agriculture Program and Barton Farm Campus strive to meet the industry’s demand for employees with a strong knowledge base and practical skill set.
Currently, we offer two-degree program pathways: Associate of Arts degree, which is designed for students planning to transfer to a four-year university, and the Associate of Applied Science in Agriculture and Natural Resources for students who wish to pursue a career in agribusiness or production agriculture. In addition to those two degrees, we offer stackable certificates in the areas of Crop Production, Livestock Management, Ag Business, Ag Operations Technology, and Equine Management.
The Associate of Arts degree requires students to complete 45 credit hours of general education classes and 15 credit hours of electives in agriculture and natural resources. Our most popular transfer majors are agri-science, agribusiness, agriculture education, and wildlife ecology. The most common transfer schools are Northwest Missouri State University and the University of Missouri-Columbia.
The Associate in Applied Science in Agriculture and Natural Resources allows students to complete approximately 20 credit hours of general education classes while focusing on 40 credit hours in agriculture and natural resource courses. In this degree pathway, students complete an internship experience in their chosen career field. Following the completion of the AAS degree, students are ready to enter the workforce or may wish to pursue a Bachelor’s of Applied Science degree at NWMSU. There is a very strong demand for students who have completed this degree in animal science, plant systems, and agribusiness career pathways.
Instruction is provided at the main NCMC campus and the Elizabeth and Arthur Barton Farm Campus. The Barton Farm Campus serves as an applied learning environment that allows students to see first-hand various agricultural production practices and the conservation of agriculture and natural resources.
In addition to the degrees and certificates offered through the NCMC Agriculture Department, we encourage students to become involved in numerous student organizations, such as NCMC Ag Club, Professional Agriculture Students (PAS), NCMC Shooting Club, and Student Senate. In addition, this past fall semester of 2020, North Central Missouri College fielded their first competitive livestock judging team, coached by NCMC Ag Instructor Jack Green. This gives our students an opportunity to improve their livestock evaluation skills through instruction and apply critical thinking, decision making, and communication skills as they travel to 8-10 collegiate contests throughout the year.
In retrospect, most would say the year 2020 was extremely challenging and brought a great deal of uncertainty. Still, it has also reminded many across the nation of the agriculture industry’s vital role in our everyday lives. One thing is for certain; the NCMC Agriculture Program will continue to stay connected to its roots, plowing ahead and mapping the path for future agriculturists and industry leaders.