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Birkey's CNH Service Technician Apprenticeship Program at Parkland Receives Grant

Birkey's CNH Service Technician Apprenticeship Program at Parkland Receives Grant

Parkland College and Birkey's Farm Store Announce a State Grant

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Parkland College, in partnership with Birkey's Farm Store, is excited to announce a state grant for the Birkey's CNH Service Technician Apprenticeship program.

The $200,000+ grant, awarded to the East Central Illinois Workforce Board by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, will be distributed over the next three semesters, covering tuition and additional costs for first-year students. The Champaign County Regional Planning Commission will manage the one-time competitive grant.

This grant is key to providing continued education to future ag equipment service technicians in our surrounding communities, according to Travis McClure, Birkey's education and recruitment specialist. "It is remarkable for these students to be able to attend college without the financial burden of tuition."

The Birkey's CNH Service Technician Apprenticeship Program at Parkland College provides over $6,000 in tools for students to achieve an Associate in Applied Science degree while completing a hands-on, paid apprenticeship alongside skilled Birkey's technicians. Registered with the U.S. Department of Labor, the program began in fall 2021 with 11 first-year apprentices and six second-year apprentices. Upon completion of the apprenticeship, graduates receive a nationally recognized journeyworker certificate from USDOL in addition to Parkland's CNH degree.

Cassandra Dunham, talent development specialist at Champaign County Regional Planning Commission, called the grant an excellent opportunity for expanding support for apprentices in the area's agriculture industry. "We are excited to help these students focus more on their education and less on taking out loans or accruing debt." One student shares her excitement. "It's encouraging to see so many people partner together to invest in my future," said Dane Shrimplin, a first-year student in the apprenticeship program. "This grant and the assistance from Birkey's are making my career goals possible." Businesses in Parkland College's District 505 who wish to explore opportunities in the apprenticeship program may contact Aimee Densmore, program manager, workforce partnerships, at adensmore@parkland.edu.

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