The Parkland College Blog

New Industry Apprenticeship Program Starts at Parkland College

Birkey's Farm Store partners with Parkland College for apprenticeship program

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Parkland College and Birkey's Farm Store announce the launch of a new, nationally recognized apprenticeship program to train agriculture and construction equipment technicians.

As an expansion of Parkland and Birkey's decade-long partnership, the new Birkey's CNH Service Equipment Technician Apprenticeship Program pairs formalized on-the-job training with technical coursework to help Birkey's develop more highly skilled employees, according to Derrick Baker, dean of Parkland's Career and Technical Education division.

"We are thrilled to be able to serve both Birkey's and our students through this new apprenticeship program," Baker said. "This kind of program is not only a cost-effective way to help employers recruit, prepare, and retain qualified technicians, but it also serves students by providing access to high-wage, high-skill, in-demand jobs alongside their educational training. And it does so in a way that values the skills and expertise of experienced workers as they pass on their knowledge to a new generation. It's a win-win, not just for Birkey's and the students, but for the whole community."

Newly registered with the U.S. Department of Labor, the Birkey's CNH Service Equipment Technician Apprenticeship Program incorporates the college's Case New Holland (CNH) Service Technician Associate in Applied Science with on-the-job training and mentoring in Birkey's stores throughout Illinois and Indiana over a three-year period.

The program began this fall with 11 first-year apprentices and six second-year apprentices. Upon completion of the apprenticeship, graduates will receive a nationally recognized journeyworker certificate from USDOL in addition to Parkland's CNH AAS degree. Birkey's Director of Human Resources Curt Carter says the program will help the company reach important industry-based goals.
"Birkey's is always on the lookout for new talent to help ensure a strong future in the farming and construction industries," Carter said. "We want to do our part to enable the workforce by providing well-trained technicians to service our customers' equipment. The CNH Service Technician Apprenticeship is an exciting way to achieve these goals and provides apprentices the opportunity to become skilled technicians who have a bright, promising career ahead of them."

Parkland's 65-hour CNH program will prepare students to maintain and repair equipment used in Case New Holland, Case IH, and Case Construction dealerships. Heavily lab-focused, the hands-on training includes coursework in hydraulic systems, powertrains, electrical systems, fuel systems, service department operations, welding, engine theory and overhaul, and air conditioning.

CNH dealers who wish to participate can receive support and technical assistance from Parkland College, an approved USDOL apprenticeship intermediary, who will expedite the registration process with the apprenticeship agency. After registering, dealers can immediately enter employees into the Service Equipment Technician program. Next, dealers will identify master-level employees who are capable of and willing to mentor apprentices. Dealers will then identify potential candidates or incumbent workers who would benefit from the apprenticeship program and enroll them.

Birkey's Farm Store has served Illinois and Indiana since 1954 with product sales and support and a network of 17 locations and 400+ employees. The company, headquartered in Champaign, Illinois, owns and operates a network of full-service Case IH agricultural and Case construction equipment stores throughout Illinois and western Indiana. The Birkey's network serves the Illinois communities Annawan, Arthur, Bloomington, Casey, Galesburg, Gibson City, Henry, Hoopeston, Macomb, Mattoon, Newton, Oakland, Polo, Propheststown, Shelbyville, and Urbana, as well as Williamsport, IN.

For more information about the Birkey's CNH Service Equipment Technician Apprenticeship Program, please contact Education Liaison and Recruitment Specialist Travis McClure at Businesses located in Parkland's District 505 can contact Parkland Apprenticeship Coordinator Aimee Densmore at

Registration Now Open for Spring 2022 Semester

Open Registration for Spring 2022 Classes Starts Today

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Open registration for Parkland College Spring Semester 2022 starts November 1. See a full listing of available courses at

Spring semester classes begin the week of January 10 (for full 16-week and first 8-week sessions) and later. At Parkland, you can learn to fly a drone, network computers, build homes, save lives, and more. Or save big on tuition by transferring your Parkland credits to universities. 

Eligible students may be able to receive additional funding of up to $800 - visit to learn more.

See the Registration Guide for dates and deadlines, drop and withdrawal steps, tuition and fee information, and more. Students may need to meet with an academic advisor before registering by emailing For a listing of registration steps, please visit

Register by January 9 for classes that begin January 10, by January 30 for classes that begin January 31, and by March 6 for classes that begin March 7. 

Parkland Community Update

Parkland Community:

We want to inform you of a shooting incident that occurred last night at the Parkland Point apartment complex located adjacent to campus, which resulted in the death of a 20-year-old young man.

We are deeply saddened that a life has been lost and know that many Parkland students live in the complex and may have witnessed or heard the incident. Parkland College’s crisis team will be offering walk-in counseling services on Monday, November 1 from 10-noon for any students needing to talk and will provide additional supports throughout the week. Students who need more immediate assistance can contact 217-359-4141, 2-1-1, or 815-570-9586.

The escalation of community violence in recent months has had a profound impact on our community. We know that while this violence may occur off-campus, the resulting trauma and feelings of fear enter our building every day. We remain committed not only to creating a safe learning environment but also to supporting the basic needs and mental health of our students through our network of services. Please do not hesitate to reach out to the Dean of Students ( or Counseling Services ( if you need support.  

We implore each of you to be aware of your surroundings and be part of the solution by making positive choices that bring you closer to your goals.  As always, you can report suspicious behavior by contacting the Parkland College Police Department at 217-351-2369 or by dialing 911.


Thomas R. Ramage, Ed.D.

President, Parkland College

Staerkel Planetarium to Present Kaler Lecture on Microreactors

Staerkel Planetarium to Present Kaler Lecture on Microreactors

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The William M. Staerkel Planetarium at Parkland College is hosting a talk on nuclear microreactors for the James B. Kaler Science Lecture Series.

On Friday, November 5 at 6:30 p.m., Dr. Caleb Brooks, associate professor in the Department of Nuclear, Plasma, and Radiological Engineering at the University of Illinois, will present "Rethinking Nuclear Power: Small Systems, Big Potential." Tickets for Kaler Lectures cost $2 or are free for Friends of the Staerkel Planetarium.

Nuclear microreactors are a new class of nuclear fission technology that various U.S. departments plan to deploy over this decade. As the name implies, they are much smaller than conventional reactors, but their design allows them to be factory-built and delivered to sites by truck, rail, or ship. Since they require minimal onsite construction, they can offer a plug-and-play source of energy, which is useful in locations limited by isolation or natural disasters.

Brooks earned B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in Nuclear Engineering from Purdue University and began working at the University of Illinois in 2014. He established the Multiphase Thermo-fluid Dynamics Laboratory to study nuclear systems and reactor flows, and he investigates hybrid energy approaches for existing and future power systems.

The seating capacity in the planetarium is currently limited to 60 people. The Kaler Science Lectures are filmed by PCTV. After the talk, the seats will be cleaned before the 8 p.m. showing of Phantom of the Universe, a program about the search for dark matter. Admission to fulldome shows start at $5. For a show schedule or booking information, please call 217/351-2446 or visit

Parkland College SHIELD CU Testing Site Moves to E Building

SHIELD CU Testing at Parkland moves to E Building

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Beginning Saturday, October 30, Parkland College's SHIELD CU testing site will be located in the E building on Parkland's main campus.

As building access is restricted, the E building must be entered through door E1; use the B5 parking lot for closer access.

Testing hours at the new site are: Monday, 8:30–11:30 a.m.; Tuesday, 8:30 a.m.–4 p.m.; Wednesday, 1–4 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.–3 p.m.

You must use the Safer Community app to receive your test results from SHIELD CU testing. For more information about the app, building access, or Parkland's COVID Monitoring System and guidelines, please visit