Parkland College Gets NSF Grant for New Ag Degree Program

Parkland College Gets NSF Grant for New Ag Degree Program

Advanced Applicator Technician AAS launches in fall, funded through NSF-ATE

Parkland College has received a third three-year grant from the National Science Foundation's Advanced Technology Education Program to improve training in precision agriculture-related fields.  

At its regular meeting Wednesday, the Parkland College Board of Trustees approved the release of $385,929 in NSF funds for the college's newest degree program, the Advanced Applicator Technician AAS, which launches this fall. 

NSF-ATE projects focus on educating technicians in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields. This latest NSF-ATE award will support Parkland's "Curriculum for Advanced Applicator Technicians (CAAT) Project" by funding part-time faculty, training equipment, and travel for student recruitment and faculty professional development.

A part of the new Midwest Center for Precision Agriculture at Parkland College, the Advanced Applicator Technician AAS degree was developed in response to the need of area retail agribusiness leaders. Crop input practices, precision technology developments and continuous government regulation changes all demonstrate a need for greater technical expertise and training in the proper application of fertilizer and chemicals. The CAAT Project focuses on providing future custom applicator technicians with postsecondary training and credentials in this critical career sector of the agribusiness industry, fulfilling current educational and employment needs by preparing highly-skilled technicians. AAS program graduates will be proficient in basic agronomic skills, operating applicator equipment, and applying applicator procedures in accordance with Department of Transportation and Environmental Protection Agency regulations. 

Parkland College received its first-ever NSF-ATE grant (as fiscal agent and sole awardee) in 2016 to fund the Precision Agriculture Curriculum Enhancement (PACE) Project. In fall 2018, the school was awarded its second such grant to fund UAS (drone) curriculum development. For more information on the CAAT Project, contact Assistant Professor Jennifer Fridgen, Agriculture/Engineering Science and Technologies, at 217/402-3662 or

Parkland's trustee board also heard spring and summer 2019 campus enrollment updates from enrollment management Dean Kristin Smigielski. 

Also at the meeting, Chief Financial Officer Chris Randles presented the tentative budget for FY 2020, which includes an operating surplus of approximately $280,000. The tentative budget will be on display for public viewing prior to final budget approval at the September meeting. 

In other business, trustees approved the following:

  • formal acknowledgement of work contracts connected to the Series 2008 and Series 2009 debt certificates used to pay for Master Plan construction work.

  • purchase of repair services from Poplar Grove Airmotive, Inc., Poplar Grove, Illinois, $69,000.

  • purchase of magnification loupes and lights from Orascoptic of Middleton, Wisconsin for the Dental Hygiene Department, $41,220.

  • purchase from Central Illinois X-ray of Bloomington, Illinois for a digital radiography system for Veterinary Technology, $22,000.

  • personnel appointments:

    • Ruthie Counter, Associate Director, Marketing and Public Relations

    • Adrienne Morrison, Director, Child Care Development Center

    • Moises Diaz, Certified Flight Instructor, Institute of Aviation

    • Robin Hayden, Medical Assistant Adjunct Faculty, Health Professions

    • Kerry Janesky, Radiologic Technology Clinical Coordinator, Health Professions

    • Stephanie Manuel, Nursing Adjunct Faculty, Health Professions

    • Charles Mitsdarfer, Agriculture Adjunct Faculty, Agriculture/Engineering Science and Technologies

    • Jordan Boyer Custodian Physical Plant

    • Maria Garcia,  Custodian Physical Plant

    • Kate Kaput, Compliance Coordinator, Public Safety

    • Joseph Kincheloe, Groundskeeper, Physical Plant

    • Carrie Marvin, Payroll Accountant, Business Office

    • Calvin Wilson, Custodian, Physical Plant

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