FREEPORT — In December, Highland Community College Agriculture welcomed 35 businesses and nearly 200 high school and Highland students to its first Northwest Illinois Agriculture Industry Expo.
Students from 16 area high schools began the day with an open house — learning about crop science, animal science, agricultural education and technology curriculum offered within the Agriculture Department. Following the open house, high school students had the opportunity to network with the local agribusiness scene.
“I was truly moved to be part of such a strong statement as to the career opportunities students have. As industry professionals, we are building from the legacy of HCC’s founders, like Del Scheider,” said Pennie Groezinger, Vice Chair of Highland’s Board of Trustees and Vice President of Human Resources & Communications at Pearl City Elevator. “The vision held 60 years ago is planted in the progressive values and spirit of today’s Highland Agriculture Program, and the career opportunities that agribusinesses bring to this region legitimize the status of ag as a local job leader.”
The day concluded with high school students taking a campus tour, while Highland students had a chance to further discuss jobs and internships with attending businesses.
“The expo was a great way to connect with both high school and college students to explain what such businesses as Compeer Financial have to offer — from college scholarships and internship opportunities to the type of graduates we are looking for to hire as full-time employees,” said Kurt Zuck, Vice President of Core Markets at Compeer Financial. “It was also a great way for me to connect with 34 other local businesses with a focus in agriculture.”
The goal of the NWIL Agriculture Industry Expo was for students and businesses alike to be able to see the importance of agriculture and agriculture education in Northwest Illinois.
“Connecting our curriculum at Highland with local employment opportunities allows students to see the purpose behind the concepts they learn in class,” said Monica Pierce, Highland Agriculture Instructor. “This connection also increases the likelihood that our students will pursue employment locally and plant their future here in Northwest Illinois. This is a huge win for our rural communities.”
The following businesses made the inaugural 2022 expo possible: A.C. McCartney, Adkins Energy, Advanced Crop Care, Bayer, Birchen Farms, Birds Eye, Carroll Service Company, Casper’s Calf Ranch, Citizens State Bank, Compeer Financial, Equity Cooperative Livestock Sales Association, Custom
Catering and BBQ, Farm & Fleet, FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative, Freeport Park District, Furst-McNess, Gavilon Grain, Golden Harvest, Grade Solutions, Hazzard Free Farm Grains, Helena Agri Enterprises, Illinois Department of Agriculture, Illinois Farm Bureau, Mark Seed & Feed, Musser Crop Services, Nutrien Ag Solutions, Pearl City Elevator, Prairie State Tractor, Preferred Meats, R&H Seed Solutions, Select Sires MidAmerica, Solutions Bank, Spectrum, State Bank, Stephenson Service Company, USDA Farm Service Agency and Vita Plus.
High school attendees were welcomed from: Dolan Education Center, Eastland, Forreston, Freeport, Galena, Lena-Winslow, Milledgeville, Orangeville, Oregon, Pearl City, River Ridge, Stillman Valley, Stockton, Warren, West Carroll and Winnebago.
For more information on the Agriculture Program at Highland, visit the Agriculture web pages. You can also contact instructors Justin Ebert at email@example.com or 815-599-3507 and Monica Pierce at firstname.lastname@example.org or 815-599-3637.