Pictured Above: Submitted photo: Ivy Tech Students drive the tractor with a one-row picker at the Ivy Tech plot donated by Westminster Village. Students and employees learned about service to the community by planting and harvesting sweet corn, which was distributed to area food banks through Catholic Charities.

Ivy Tech Community College Terre Haute offers two fields of study for individuals seeking high paying careers in the agriculture industry. The programs, agriculture and precision agriculture, prepare students to directly enter the agriculture workforce in competitive paying careers or to transfer to many of Ivy Tech’s four-year partners.

The need for new agriculture training is great. Indiana is seeing an increase in the average age of its farm workers from 49 in 1950 to now approaching the age of 60. U.S. Department of Agriculture data indicates that farm output over roughly that same period of time increased 2.7 times. The aging workforce forecasts the need for an influx of workers to take over both traditional and emerging roles in the sector.

Ivy Tech’s newest program in this industry is Precision Agriculture Engineering Technology.

Precision Ag is taught by Ivy Tech instructors with real-world experience. Students use state-of-the-art laboratories equipped with the newest on-board equipment, as well as tractors, combines, sprayers and more.

It is an approach to farm management that uses information technology to ensure that crops and soil receive exactly what they need for optimum health and productivity. The goal of Precision Ag is to ensure profitability, sustainability and protection of the environment. Classes focus on a variety of subjects necessary to be successful in this field, including production agriculture, mechanical systems, electronics and even business strategies and global farming issues.

Ivy Tech Terre Haute recently announced receiving a $1.2 million grant from the Economic Development Administration to retrofit a warehouse in the rear of the former Doughmaker’s Building, now Ivy Tech property located at the southern Vigo County Industrial Park.

Ivy Tech graduated its first three students from the program in May: Bryce Elson (Farmersburg), Jessica Gries (Poseyville) and Casey Holder (Shelburn).

Holder, 22, said he decided to go to Ivy Tech because he had farmed his entire life, and he knew that the “precision” part of the industry is the “direction the farm world is taking for its future.

“I liked how hands-on it (the program) was,” Holder continued. “Ivy Tech was able to get new precision equipment every semester I was there, and we were able to install and use it.

“We also spent a lot of time out in the field testing things out,” Holder said. Noting that Precision Ag is a brand new program for Ivy Tech and new to higher education in general, he added, “We were very well prepared.”