Agricultural Science Concentration - Riverland

Agricultural Science Concentration

Precision Agriculture

CHANGE THE WORLD
Agriculture is one of Minnesota’s most important industries and provides a variety of related career opportunities. Close to 2 million family farms dot the landscape across rural America. Total agricultural production for many crops has risen exponentially over time and while incorporating careful stewardship of resources, soil erosion has steadily declined during this same time frame. Statistics indicate that over 22 million Americans are employed in the agricultural industry, equating to 11 percent of total employment. Each year, 57,900 new jobs are created in agriculture, but employers face a 39% deficit in job placement. Education in agriculture will allow you to meet this tremendous opportunity and feed, fuel, and cloth the world.

This program allows students to complete an Associates of Arts degree in Agricultural Sciences that is worth 60 credits. The A.A. degree in Agricultural Sciences is transferrable into a liberal arts baccalaureate degree program. The associate of arts (AA) degree is designed to meet all of the 10 goal areas and minimum total credits of the entire Minnesota Transfer Curriculum. Students will take 44 credits of general education requirements and 16 credits of required core courses in the Agricultural Sciences program. Riverland Community College’s Center for Agricultural and Food Science Technology and the A.A. degree in Agricultural Sciences is a great choice for students who interested in making a difference in the field of agriculture and especially for those looking to transfer to a school within the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MinnState) system.

 

What will I study?

In addition to biology, chemistry, mathematics, composition courses (amongst others) that fall under the general education requirements, students will learn agronomic, agribusiness, precision agricultural, entomology, weed science, plant pathology, soil science, fertility management, natural resource conservation. The A.S. degree is very hands-on education, allowing you to first-hand apply what you learn in the classroom.
This Program Is Right For You If You:

  • Enjoy nature, science, agriculture, biology and working in a rewarding industry
  • Like trying new technologies and developing new approaches to solving problems
  • Like working with different people in a fast-paced environment
  • Are involved with 4-H, FFA, STEM, or other agricultural-themed activities and projects
  • Developing and researching new ways for Minnesota’s farmers to enhance sustainable agriculture

 

Facilities and Resources

Riverland’s Center for Agricultural and Food Science Technology is located inside of the Austin West campus at Riverland Community College in Austin, MN. The Center is a collaborative space open to students to study, meet faculty and learn about Agriculture and Food Science Technology. It is home to a state-of-the-art John Deere Combine Simulator and Robotic Seed Bed.

The Ag Center is situated between two land-grant universities with close proximity to on-campus student housing and reliable transportation options. The Ag Center is also located closely to the Hormel Foods Corporation, The Hormel Institute, and a number of regionally and globally-recognized agricultural companies seeking graduates to fill their employment needs. Riverland Community College maintains a cooperative research farm near Lansing, MN, with a number of local agricultural cooperators named Sustainable Answer Acre where courses are implemented into the research plots. The Ag industry surrounds all Riverland campuses for many miles and serves as the heart of the state’s economy, affording students an ideal opportunity to begin their career in agriculture and food science technology.

 

Responsibilities Include

Apply technical and scientific findings to feed and fuel a growing population while conserving natural resources

  • Increase crop production for Minnesota’s farmers
  • Scout and diagnosis common pests in agricultural farmland
  • Design new hybrids/varieties for widespread research and commercial usage
  • Oversee farm plans and analyze balance sheets and income statements
  • Provide medical support and care to injured livestock
  • Work in economics to create profitable enterprises, tax-preparation documents, and succession plans for various family farms
  • Implement best management practices for Minnesota’s growing agriculture base
  • Engineer, design, and troubleshoot power machinery and structural equipment
  • Teach and inspire the next generation of agricultural leaders

 

Wages / Career Opportunities / Internships

Agricultural Science students are highly encouraged to complete 1-2 internships during their degree completion AND they can receive college credit! Internships are ways for students to expand on what they have learned in the classroom, receive work experience, earn a wonderful wage, and can potentially lead to full-time employment after degree completion. These experiences are typically completed during the summer season, but can also be completed during the fall and spring seasons. We have successfully placed students at many local agricultural companies. Students are encouraged to explore open careers and internships on the Riverland Agricultural and Food Science Technology website at www.riverlandagclub.theaet.com under the ‘Careers/Internships’ page. Students may also find their own internships as well. Potential options include:

  • Crop Scout Intern
  • Field Plot Intern
  • Lab Technician
  • Ag Sales Intern
  • Ag/Food Science Intern
  • DNR/Conservation Intern

Salary
Agricultural Science majors can expect to earn anywhere from $30,000 to $50,000 upon graduation. Salaries increase with experience and education and can earn anywhere from $60,000 to $100,000. Agricultural Science interns can expect to make $12-17/hour.

Notable Employers

  • Archer-Daniels-Midland
  • Bayer Crop Sciences
  • Central Harvest States (CHS)
  • Hormel Foods
  • Seed, Chemical, Fertilizers Dealers
  • Equipment Dealers
  • Conservation Districts
  • Livestock Enterprises

 

    Program Scholarships

Scholarships

The Agricultural and Food Science Technology Department has a number of scholarship options available for students. Agricultural Science majors are strongly encouraged to apply for Riverland Community College Foundation scholarships that pertain to solely Agricultural Science majors. Many scholarship options are available and dependent upon qualifications. It is possible that students may attend Riverland Community College as a declared Agricultural Science major at a greatly-reduced tuition cost.  

  • David and Ollie Hagen Agriculture Scholarship
  • Hormel Foundation Agriculture and Food Science Scholarship
  • Pat and Gary Ray Agriculture Scholarship
  • For more information about scholarships & deadlines please visit: Riverland Foundation Scholarships

 

Activities

There are many ways Agricultural students can get involved on campus:
Riverland’s Agricultural and Food Science Technology Club is the only club in the state combining Collegiate FFA with Post-Secondary Opportunities in Agriculture (PAS). Members of the club participate in service projects and leadership opportunities. To learn more about the Riverland Ag Club, please visit www.riverlandagclub.theaet.com.
Honors College
Phi Theta Kappa
Riverland Student Senate  

 

Faculty Highlight
Nich Schiltz

Nick Schiltz
Ag Instructor
I have been privileged to work as a teacher and educator in a multitude of roles and am excited to teach an area near and dear to my heart: agriculture. Growing up on a local family farm, I learned the 'why's' and 'how's' of what made agriculture so dynamic. Today, I work as a faculty instructor within the Center for Agriculture and Food Science Technology at Riverland Community College, very close to where I grew up. I am passionate about working with students and seeing them have success. Our hope is that students will embrace the concept of being lifelong learners, never forgetting that life is a journey and there is an exciting world to learn more about.


Willy Mekeel

Willy Mekeel
Geography, Physics, Agriculture Instructor
Willy Mekeel holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Aviation and Master's of Science Degrees in Geography and GIS from Minnesota State University, Mankato. His Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota is focused on remote sensing applications in wildlife biology. Specifically, he is answering questions related to the applicability of object-based image analysis workflows in tracking moose and deer populations in Northern Minnesota.
Willy began his teaching career at various community colleges in Minnesota. Since then, he has taught at both the undergraduate and graduate level in online and face-to-face courses in geography, GIS, remote sensing, and agricultural sciences. He is driven as an instructor by a passion for adventure and learning that comes from examining the world through a spatial lens. This passion and curiosity has taken him to mountain tops in the Cascades, Rockies, and San Juan ranges as well as caves throughout the United States and Vietnam. He has commercial single-engine and multi-engine pilot certificates as well as the Part 107 remote pilot certificate for small UAS. In the private sector, Willy co-founded an aviation services company and managed the remote sensing program that oversaw the collection of millions of acres of thermal, color, and NIR imagery for applications in agriculture, civil engineering, and management of natural resources

Last Updated: May 22, 2020

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