The Parkland College Blog

Early College and Career Academy Debuts Construction Trades Program

ECCA to partner with local union for construction education

High school juniors and seniors interested in construction careers can train directly with trade professionals in a new dual-credit pathway Parkland College is launching this fall.

Parkland's Early College and Career Academy will debut Construction Trades, the ninth pathway of the ECCA, which gives students skilled career training while still in high school.

The Construction Trades pathway will be a collaboration with the East Central Illinois Building and Construction Trades Council. Nick Elder, director of Education for Employment System No. 330 and ECCA coordinator, called the new pathway a true partnership between the local business community and the academy.

“Construction Trades will serve as a pipeline to fill the growing need for young people in the trade fields as the current workforce begins to age out,” Elder explained. "We're excited about the launch of this program."

Learning from this workforce, student participants will develop hands-on experience and knowledge about individual trades. They will spend three days per week on campus and two days off-campus in environments such as trade halls and professional sites.

"Not only will students be able to earn college credit for the courses they complete on campus, but they're also going to be able to form connections with professionals in the construction industry," Elder said.

Students will earn 10 Parkland College credits for completing the program, which prepares them to re-enroll after high school graduation to complete Parkland's Construction Management associate's degree. Moreover, they will be prepared to apply for an apprenticeship with a local trade union, according to Kevin Sage, business agent with Plumbers & Steamfitters LU No. 149.

"If students want to pursue a career in the building trades, this class is going to lead them right up to it," said Sage. "They'll know how to apply for apprenticeships, see the different opportunities out there, and know what trades would suit them best. I think it's going to be a real good thing for these kids to see."

Launched in November 2014, the Early College and Career Academy is a collaboration of the EFE No. 330 K-12 career and technical education cooperative and Parkland College. At the academy, high school juniors and seniors earn dual credit for courses in certain skill-based programs: Automotive, Computer Networking, Computer Programming, Construction Trades, Criminal Justice, Emergency Medical Services (Health Professions or Fire Service focus), Certified Nursing Assistant, Industrial Technology, and Education Pathway. The academy benefits not only area students but also local businesses due to the increased skill level of the incoming workforce.

For more information about the ECCA Construction Trades program, contact Elder at or 217/355-1382. Visit the ECCA page to learn more about the Early College and Career Academy. 

Planetarium Kaler Lecture to Spotlight the Beauty of Birds

"Birds of East Central Illinois: Natural Beauty You Probably Didn't Notice"

The William M. Staerkel Planetarium at Parkland College will host a selection of bird photography for the James B. Kaler Science Lecture Series at 7 p.m. on Friday, March 5.

Jeffrey Bryant, a research programmer at WolframAlpha, will present "Birds of East Central Illinois: Natural Beauty You Probably Didn't Notice". The planetarium will offer this lecture to the public for free on Zoom.

During the lecture, Mr. Bryant will show a selection of his high-quality photography. As an avid birder in his spare time, he travels around east central Illinois to observe and photograph various local species. All image subjects were located within a relatively short drive of his home, including in his own backyard. By knowing where and when to look, anyone can get a sense of the diversity of life right here in Illinois.

Mr. Bryant earned a B.S. and M.S. in Physics at Ball State University, focusing his research on variable star systems. As part of his work for Wolfram Research, L.L.C., he composes blog posts about visualizations of astronomical phenomena using the Wolfram Language.

Following Mr. Bryant's Kaler Lecture, the planetarium staff will present Prairie Skies Spotlight on Exoplanets in the same Zoom meeting at 8 p.m. The Prairie Skies show offers a tour of the night sky, and this special program will feature some of the thousands of planets that have been discovered outside of the Solar System. The full schedule of public shows, including Zoom links, can be found on the planetarium website. Recordings of past shows are available on their YouTube channel and private shows can be booked by emailing

Parkland Announces New Program for Science Scholars

New Parkland Science Scholars program will support low-income students

Parkland College is launching a new program to support low-income students in the natural sciences.

Parkland Science Scholars, funded by a five-year grant from the National Science Foundation, seeks to empower full-time, low-income science students to work toward graduation and transfer to four-year institutions.

Parkland’s Natural Sciences faculty members recognized that low-income students face specific challenges during their academic journey. These students had lower graduation and transfer rates, according to Dr. C. Britt Carlson, associate professor of chemistry.

"Low-income students often have to juggle school with outside work, which can add stress and make it more difficult to complete a degree," Carlson said. "These students often face additional challenges, such as being the first in their family to attend college and being less familiar with college processes and support services."

Led by three full-time Natural Sciences faculty members, biology instructor Dr. Chelsea Lloyd, associate professor of physics Curtis Shoaf, and Carlson, the program will put structures in place that will support students through graduation.

These structures include financial support; one-on-one faculty, peer, and UIUC graduate student mentoring; summer research experiences; club participation; and a course specifically designed for the scholars.

"Parkland Science Scholars will support students through scholarships opportunities for leadership, mentoring, and summer research," Carlson said. "Students will gain experience related to their future careers, make professional connections, and will form a community of learners that will sustain them beyond their two years at Parkland."

Current funding will support four groups of 10 students each over the five-year grant period. Students will receive tuition support of $2,450 each semester for up to four semesters. After completing the program, students will also receive recognition by the Parkland College Board of Trustees.

"Students who participate in Parkland Science Scholars will graduate with skills, experiences, and connections that will serve as a foundation for success throughout their academic journey and professional careers," Carlson said.

Eligible students must:

  • be pursuing a degree in science (including, but not limited to physical sciences, engineering sciences, and biological sciences except clinical fields)

  • be from low-income families as determined by FAFSA

Preference will be given to students who have a GPA of at least 2.5 or have earned at least a 21 on the ACT. To remain in the program, students must stay in good academic standing and attend program-coordinated events and activities.

Applications will be accepted soon. For more information about Parkland Science Scholars, please visit or contact Carlson at

Dental Hygiene Clinic to Offer Free Screenings for Immigrants

Immigrant Dental Screening Day, Monday, March 1, from 3 to 7 p.m. in the Dental Hygiene Clinic

Parkland College's Dental Hygiene Clinic will host a free "Immigrant Dental Screening Day" on Monday, March 1, from 3 to 7 p.m. in the Dental Hygiene Clinic, Room L150 at the college campus.

This event is for adults 18 and older and is by appointment only. Parkland College Dental Hygiene program faculty and students will provide dental screenings for gum disease and tooth decay at no cost to patients. Patients will fill out a COVID screening form along with a medical history; appointments are approximately 30 minutes.

Once patients have been screened, Dental Hygiene staff will schedule any necessary appointments for free follow-up cleanings, dental x-rays, oral health education and fluoride treatments, and will make referrals for advanced dental work.

Individuals interested in this special event may contact the La Línea program (based in the University YMCA) at 217/417-5897 to make an appointment for a screening or for more information.

"Immigrant Dental Screening Day" is sponsored by the Parkland College Dental Hygiene program and Club Latino, La Línea, and the Wesley Food Pantry at Parkland College.

Parkland Trustees Approve Tuition Freeze, Policy Updates

Board of Trustees general meeting, February 17, 2021

Parkland College plans to keep next year's base tuition rates the same as 2020-2021.

At its regular meeting Wednesday, the Parkland College Board of Trustees announced that effective summer session 2021, Parkland's in-district rates will remain at $148.50 per credit hour (all Tier One courses) through the 2021-2022 academic year. This recommendation followed the annual Budget Workshop for Parkland Trustees led by Chief Financial Officer Christopher Randles.

"Parkland is an outstanding value, offering substantial return on investment for students ready to take the next step in their academic journey or career path," said President Ramage. "Holding our tuition rates flat for this upcoming year demonstrates our commitment to remaining affordable and competitive, particularly during this challenging time. We are making this possible through tight fiscal management and with unanimous support from our Board of Trustees."

The board also approved new changes to the Policy and Procedures Manual, as presented at its last meeting by the Parkland College Association. Policies updated include 3.01 (Federal Title IX Law) and 9.07 (Sabbatical policy).

In other business, trustees approved:

  • the 2021-2022 Course Fee Schedule

  • a memorandum of understanding between Parkland College, the Illinois Community College Board, and District 505 schools for a dual-credit program fee structure

  • the purchase of:

    • ALEKS PPL testing units from McGraw-Hill Global Education Holdings LLC, $60,000

  • the filing of the following grant applications:

    • Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity (DCEO): Manufacturing Training Academies

  • acceptance of funds from external sources:

    • National Science Foundation (NSF): Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (S-STEM)

    • U.S. Department of Education: CARES Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF): Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students (CRRSAA allocation)

    • U.S. Department of Education: CARES Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF): Institutional Portion (CRRSAA allocation)

  • personnel appointments:

    • Julia Hawthorne, Director of Advising Services, Advising Services

    • Joshua Houston, Building Systems Lead, Physical Plant

    • Cindy Reynolds, Administrative Assistant, Health Professions