Bay, MSU Extension eye ag program

ESCANABA — Bay College has been working with Michigan State University (MSU) Extension to potentially bring a new, agriculture-related program to the area. Bay College President Laura Coleman spoke about this program at the Bay College Board of Trustees’ meeting.

“I reported out on a meeting we had with MSU Extension about bringing an agricultural operations program to Bay College in the fall of 2019,” Coleman said.

According to Coleman, Bay and MSU Extension would work together to teach the classes included in this program.

“They (would) teach half of the classes, and Bay (would) teach half the classes,” she said.

Coleman also said Bay’s early college students would be able to take classes included in the agricultural operations program.

“We (would) also … partner with local ISDs so that students in early colleges can take advantage of this program,” she said.

The introduction of the program would be important due to the role agriculture plays in the area’s economy, Coleman said.

“There is a very large farm presence in the Upper Peninsula,” she said.

She also noted that, as older farmers age out of their profession, getting a post-secondary education can help younger people interested in becoming farmers learn everything they need to be successful.

“Young farmers need to get an education around all things (farming), including business management of the farm,” Coleman said.

While Bay has discussed the possibility of adding agriculture-related classes in the past, the college did not have the expertise in this field required to create a quality program.

“MSU Extension brings that expertise to the process,” Coleman said. In addition to its partnership with Bay, MSU Extension is working with 10 other community colleges in Michigan on similar programs.

Coleman said both Bay and MSU Extension plan to promote the partnership through their presences at the U.P. State Fair next month.

“MSU will … have a booth in the Miracle of Life Building,” she said.

Bay will feature the program at their booth in the Ruth Butler Building. They will also conduct a survey on the needs of the farming community and ask for volunteers for upcoming focus groups during the fair.