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Dec 05, 2014

Low-Cost Agriculture Courses Through Partnership

Three low-cost, non-credit agricultural training courses designed to help farmers sharpen their production and operational skills are being offered this winter.

Three low-cost, non-credit agricultural training courses designed to help beginning and established farmers sharpen their production and operational skills are being offered this winter at Ellis Clark Regional Agriscience and Technology Center at Nonnewaug High School in Woodbury. 

The courses, which begin in early January and will be held on weekday evenings in conjunction with Ellis Clark’s adult education program, are: 

•         Integrated Pest Management
•         Soils and Fertilization
•         Tractors for Beginners 

The courses are the product of a collaboration between the Department of Agriculture, the state Board of Regents for Higher Education, the state Department of Education’s Agricultural Science and Technology Education Program, the Ellis Clark center and Naugatuck Valley Community College (NVCC).  

The 6-week pest-management class and 6-week soils class begin Jan. 7 and will be held on Wednesday evenings from 6:45 p.m. to 9:05 p.m. The fee is $125 for each, and $50 scholarships to defray the cost are available from the NVCC Foundation on a first-come, first-served basis. 

The 4-week tractor course, offered by Nonnewaug, will be held on Jan. 7, 14 and 21 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. and on Jan. 24 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. It will focus on an introduction to tractor basics including safe operation, tractor classification and selection, routine maintenance, and common implements (PTO & hydraulic) and their use.

The fee is $60, and no scholarships are available. 

The pilot program was conceived during discussions of the 2014 Producer Education and Innovation working group of the Governor’s Council for Agricultural Development (GCAD).  Future plans include developing curriculum for agricultural certificate programs that ultimately could be stacked to earn an associate’s degree.

“These courses are the result of GCAD listening carefully over the past two and a half years to farmers and other stakeholders who have repeatedly expressed a need for practical, hands-on training,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steven K. Reviczky, who chairs the governor’s council. “I look forward to further building this relationship to offer a growing set of agricultural training options.”

Board of Regents President Gregory Gray said: “This agricultural education partnership will ensure that the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities are equipped to provide agricultural training to help Connecticut farmers. This initiative can help provide Connecticut residents with the skills and training they need to excel, and will help encourage these talented individuals back into the workforce.”

NVCC has a successful horticulture program focusing on ornamental crop production. The Ellis Clark center has an acclaimed, waiting-list-only high school agricultural program and a popular adult education program that includes courses on beekeeping, backyard poultry production, pruning, composting, cheese making and meat cutting.

“Horticulture is a broad discipline and many of our students understand the importance of locally supported and sustained agriculture,” said Daisy Cocco DeFilippis, President of NVCC. These courses are hopefully just the first step toward a long mutually beneficial relationship that benefits Connecticut farmers." 

Bill Davenport, Agriscience Program Director at Nonnewaug High School, said: 
“The original purpose of the 19 regional agriscience programs in Connecticut was to also provide further training for out-of-school youths and adults in the agricultural community. We are glad to be able to offer our facilities to help satisfy this demonstrated need for adult education for the agricultural community.”

More information on the pest management and soils courses is available at www.nv.edu/agriculture

Details of the tractor course, as well as that for additional adult education classes, can be found at www.woodburyffa.org.

Space is limited and students are encourage to register as soon as possible. 


Laurie Hornbecker, Naugatuck Valley Community College

John Farrell, Ellis Clark Regional Agriscience and Technology Center 

Jane Williams, Board of Regents for Higher Education

Steve Jensen, Department of Agriculture