With new ag complex, Chemeketa sets sights recruiting high school agriculture students


Chemeketa Community College goals to get extra students fascinated by agriculture with their new grant. As a part of the grant, three faculty students will function interns per 12 months within the agricultural area.

The new agriculture complicated at Chemeketa extra classroom and lab area.

Every summer season, Jared Hibbard-Swanson, the farm and backyard program supervisor at Marion-Polk Food Share, helps just a few dozen center and high schoolers farm a six-acre plot in northeast Salem.

The Marion-Polk Food Share’s youth farm gives free packing containers of native natural produce to about 120 Salem-area households and goals to teach native students about meals programs. 

Chemeketa Community College interns give this system a giant enhance, Hibbard-Swanson stated, providing students experience and position fashions.

“It’s inspiring for the younger students, the teenagers … to see a pathway forward in agriculture. There’s a negative stereotype about what type of work is available in ag,” Hibbard-Swanson stated. “They can become technicians, they can become farm managers, they can become farm owners even.”

But this system typically doesn’t have funding to pay interns.

That will change subsequent summer season because of a new Chemeketa grant geared toward encouraging extra Hispanic students to pursue careers in agriculture.

The faculty lately obtained a $274,590 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to be spent over 4 years.

Tim Ray, Chemeketa’s dean for agricultural sciences and know-how, stated the school plans to accomplice with the Gervais and Woodburn school districts to create an envoy program “where we empower our current students at the community college to go to the high schools and talk about their experiences.”

The grant is meant to get high school students to enroll at Chemeketa in agriculture-related packages, and assist faculty students already finding out. Chemeketa students who’re mentors will obtain tuition waivers as an incentive, Ray stated.

As a part of the grant, three faculty students will function interns per 12 months. Ray stated they could work with the Food Share’s youth farm, in addition to a smaller 1.5-acre farm on the Chemeketa campus which is being arrange close to the newly constructed agriculture complicated, which opened this fall.

“Chemeketa’s had a fantastic horticulture program for decades, but now with the new building we’re really wanting to highlight and create those partnerships with our area high schools,” Ray stated.

The complicated, which opened this fall, sits on the east finish of campus. Ray stated the on-site farm could have a mixture of woody ornamentals grown by horticulture students, in addition to a fruit and vegetable farm.

Students will be capable to study crop administration, irrigation know-how and extra.

“We really have the opportunity to have a working farm,” he stated.

Chemeketa obtained the grant as a result of it’s a Hispanic Serving Institution, a federal designation for schools and universities with a scholar physique that’s a minimum of 25% Hispanic.

Ray stated the grant is targeted on the Gervais and Woodburn districts as a result of each have a high share of Hispanic students, although they hope to ultimately broaden to different space districts.

Though Chemeketa is about 28% Hispanic, simply 11 to 14% of horticulture and wine research students are Hispanic, in response to the grant narrative. As the school now seeks so as to add extra agricultural diploma choices, Ray stated additionally they need to present native students that there are a selection of attainable careers in agriculture.

“Part of it is the connotation of agriculture and just being a fieldworker, we’re really trying hard to break that,” he stated. “We’re training you to be a manager, a supervisor, an entrepreneur in the agricultural world.”