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VINCENNES — As agriculture evolves rapidly to meet the changing needs of consumers, Vincennes University is ramping up their agriculture programs with a massive new center for students.
The university's new Agricultural Center will house a collaboration of innovation for the future of Indiana's agriculture industry.
"We have people coming in and asking, 'Hey do you have any graduates? We need workers,'" Susan Brocksmith, the agribusiness program chair at Vincennes University, said. "We are seeing more jobs needed in the agricultural industries, when you consider one out of every five workers are working in agriculture in some way, whether you are talking the food industry, the trade industry, or just getting things done in that, so we are seeing that as far as continuing to move forward and the specialty areas."
Brocksmith is looking forward to preparing her students for the future in the new learning facility at the university.
"We wanted to bring all of our ag programs together as well as get our cutting edge technology up to date so that students getting out can be employed and have those latest skills they need," Brocksmith said.
This new facility is housing five agriculture programs at Vincennes University. One of them, the John Deer Agriculture Tech Program, is one of only 16 in the U.S. exposing students now to the exact tools they will be using in the workforce.
The new Agricultural Center will also hold the agribusiness program, horticulture program, precision agriculture program, and VU/Purdue Cooperative Agriculture Transfer program.
Every year, the university has about 150 students that come to Vincennes to learn the latest technology. One of those students was Allison Stoup, she just graduated in the spring and was immediately employed at Perdue Agribusiness.
"I take care of inbound grain trucks and outbound grain trucks and I also buy and sell grain," Stoup said. "Most of the classes that I had were directly related to the jobs that I had."
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With the new facility, new technology, and new classes, Stoup hopes to come back to her alma mater to keep her skillset up to par for the evolving market.
"I would like to come back and learn more about the drones, the urban agriculture class," Stoup said.
The next generation of agriculture professionals are preparing in the classrooms and fields now for the challenges posed by climate change, an uncertain economy, increased use of automation and technology, and a massive transfer of land and resources from the baby boomer generation.
"We are seeing that we have got to increase the students because we need them in the industry to do the functions with the technology that we are going to be able to offer is going to help us even more," Brocksmith said.
This professor of agribusiness says although technology is removing certain jobs from the industry, it is also creating many new jobs for the future that are going unfilled.
"Even though computers and the technology is there, we have to have the people that can help us with that technology because it is such a vast array that we need more people to help even though, like you said, the industry is stable but we need more workers," Brocksmith said.
The new Agricultural Center at Vincennes University is along U.S. 41. Students will also have access to cutting edge laboratories, Purdue's food safety hub, a greenhouse, and bee colonies.