California Community Colleges team up with US Department of Agriculture

Signing of recent MOU brings hopes of a stronger statewide agricultural economy

Johnny Wilson

California Community Colleges Chancellor Brice W. Harris and California Director of USDA Rural Development Dr. Glenda Humiston co-signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) last week which will propel statewide agricultural programs.
An announcement was made by Harris after the co-signing at the Chancellor’s Sacramento office, making it clear that California USDA Rural Development will be pairing with the California Community Colleges (CCC) system to educate students of rural areas on the economics of agriculture.
The two agencies will be co-sponsoring workshops, seminars, webinars, and networking events throughout the state. In addition, a total of 11 “Capital Readiness Events” have been officially scheduled as stated in the signed MOU. These events will provide information and hands-on training to California Community College students of rural regions.
The first Capital Readiness Event occurred last Wednesday, taking place at Yuba College in Marysville, Calif. These workshops will be taking place on Community College Campuses for the remainder of the semester, with the last event culminating at Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo on May 16th.
“We are excited to partner in this effort to expand our existing relationships with California’s community colleges,” said Humiston.
However, this recent partnership between CCCs and California USDA Rural Development is not the first of its kind. In 2012, leaders of the USDA and American Association of Community Colleges signed an MOU regarding a rural economic emphasis on a national scale.
The MOU signed by Harris and Humiston was designed to second this motion, providing efforts on a more localized and focused scale.
Harris hopes this state-level partnership will help strengthen California’s many agricultural economies on a local scope.
“When business is allied with higher education in a program such as this, it’s a win-win,” Harris said. “The businesses get the economic and human capital they need to grow and prosper and our students get trained for new, high-paying jobs so they can grow and prosper, too.”
CCC officers such as Vice Chancellor Ton-Quinlivan agree that agriculture is a key factor of economic growth amidst a recovering statewide economy, especially in rural areas where farming is crucial to financial survival.
“Agriculture continues to be a major driver of the state’s economy and the fabric of our rural communities,” Ton-Quinlivan said.
“”We need to do everything we can to support farmers, businesses and students that rely on the agriculture sector for their livelihoods,” Ton-Quinlivan said.
Moreover, the CCC system, with a total of 72 districts and 112 colleges, is the largest body of higher education in the US. An average of 2.4 million students are enrolled in this system annually.
Naturally, both state and national officials agree that targeting the expansive CCC sector is crucial for economic advancement.
“The (White House) Rural Council recognizes that stronger education is vital to better jobs, and this MOU is an important step toward strengthening our rural economy,” said Dallas Tonsager, USDA Undersecretary for Rural Development.

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