The Parkland College Blog

Parkland College Campus Closed Friday for Police Training

Police Training on Friday, March 19

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Parkland College's police department will conduct active shooter/hostile intruder training Friday, March 19, while the college is closed for spring holiday. 
Parkland College Public Safety Department Interim Chief Jared Ping said his officers will hold their training session throughout the campus, from approximately 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The main campus will be closed to all faculty, staff, and students. However, the training will not affect the Parkland on Mattis complex or scheduled athletic events.

"We want to announce this to ensure that our community members are not alarmed when they see a more active police presence that day," he said.
Please contact Sgt. Ping at 217/351-2884 for further information.

Trustees Approve New Career Certificate, NSF Grant

Board of Trustees General Meeting, March 10

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Parkland College plans to launch a new Mental Health Certificate career program and use a new National Science Foundation grant to boost its nationally ranked Precision Agriculture program.

At its regular meeting Wednesday, the Board of Trustees received President Tom Ramage's report that the College has received its fifth NSF grant for the "Expanding Precision Agriculture Education and Certification to Secondary Students" project.

EPASS will build on the success of two prior NSF projects in Precision Agriculture and Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) in developing pathways for secondary students to earn college credentials while gaining hands-on industry experience. The $581,377 grant project will start July 1, 2021 and continue through June 30, 2024.

After voting to approve application of funds, the board approved the new Mental Health Certificate program, a two-course, industry-recognized certificate that will train entry-level mental health and social service workers.

Upon completing the five-credit-hour certificate, students will acquire the skills necessary to enter full- or part-time mental health support professional roles. These skills include therapeutic communication and de-escalation techniques; identification of signs and symptoms of mental illness, substance abuse, and developmental disabilities; and certification in mental health first aid, among others. Parkland's Social Science and Human Services department will offer the program.

In other business, trustees approved:

  • the purchase of:

    • digital marketing services from Clarus Corporation, $190,000

    • consulting services from McKenzie-Wagner, $130,000

    • renewal of Zoom Software, $33,000

    • services and courses from ProTrain, $70,000

    • safety training services of Grey & Associates, $30,000

    • services and courses of Black Rocket Productions, $25,000

    • training services from Rock Gate Capital, DBA 160 Driving Academy, $40,000

  • the bid from Intelligent Video Solutions for software and audiovisual equipment, $38,252

  • personnel appointments:

    • Jared Ping, Interim Director of Public Safety, Public Safety

    • Amanda Gilbert-Mohler, Bookstore Specialist, Bookstore

    • Myriah Benner-Coogan, Advising Program Manager, Counseling and Advising

Early College and Career Academy Debuts Construction Trades Program

ECCA to partner with local union for construction education

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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"

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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

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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