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Home Agricultural: Technology, News & Trends Hartland Community College Cuts Ribbon on $23 Million Agri-complex

Hartland Community College Cuts Ribbon on $23 Million Agri-complex

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Ribbon cutting

The long-awaited Hartland Community College (HCC) Ag Complex officially opened to the public on Wednesday.

Hartland staff, students, local officials, farm group representatives, and others gathered for the opening at the McLean County Farm Bureau Ag Lab inside the 29,500-square-foot Ag Complex. The complex also includes the Growmark FS Atrium, the Funk Family Foundation Outdoor Learning Centre, and teaching and community learning spaces.

“This is an agricultural community center for central Illinois,” said HCC President Keith Cornille, who presided over a ribbon-cutting event celebrating the center’s public debut.

“We’re already working with several groups outside of the instructional space, such as 4-H and FFA. we’re committed to working not only with students to help prepare them for the workforce, but also with young people to get them into agriculture. Even if your hobbies are in IT or chemistry, those can apply to the agriculture industry. We want to develop future agricultural leaders here.”

Speech

Initially estimated to cost about $23.4 million, the final cost to complete the agribusiness facility appears to be closer to $23 million, according to Cornille. The cost includes a $2 million donation from the McLean County Farm Bureau and an additional $2 million grant from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation to bring the building to “net-zero” energy performance efficiency.

The HCC Foundation is seeking an additional $7 million in private and corporate donations to help cover construction costs associated with the complex.

Cornille told WGLT: “This (donation goal) is right on target.” “I think we’ve raised about $6.8 million, so we’re very close to that goal. With an additional $2 million in grants, we’ll be able to start lowering the cost of bonds and other (expenses).”

Hartland spokesman Steve Fast said savings from the school’s bond issue for construction could be used to fund other projects.

Student Growth

At the Ag Complex’s groundbreaking event last year, HCC’s agriculture program boasted 50 full-time students. The Ag Complex officially opened for the spring semester on Jan. 16, and enrollment is at or near capacity.

Cornell said, “Our goal is to further increase enrollment next fall. We are very confident that through the awarding of certificates and other forms of enrollment activities, we will enroll 200 students in our programs.”

The college has expanded its agriculture-related course offerings to include a two-year Associate of Applied Science in Agriculture degree, as well as stackable certificates in Agribusiness, Agronomy, Precision Agriculture, and Regenerative Agriculture, which students can earn on their way to a degree.

Tractor

Lauren Monk, a freshman at Heyworth, plans to transfer to Illinois State University after her sophomore year to pursue a bachelor’s degree in agricultural education. She was among the speakers praising the new facility during Wednesday’s ceremony.

“One of the biggest advantages is being able to take as many credits as possible before transferring while staying on campus as long as possible. I love everything on campus, especially the new agriculture building – it’s amazing,” Monk said.

Ashley McClintock, Growmark FS executive vice president of human resources, also addressed the large crowd gathered for the ribbon cutting. McClintock said agribusiness parks should provide a steady source of job seekers for ag-related businesses and co-ops like Growmark.

“By providing these students with the experience and hands-on education they need to succeed in the industry, we are not only preparing them for successful careers, but we are also developing a sustainable pipeline of future workers,” she said. “These individuals will become stewards of our land, future innovators, and pillars of our local economy. We are investing in the future of our students and our community.”

Support for the agribusiness project comes from many sources, including Precision Planting, the Illinois Soybean Association, Cargill, and others, in addition to the McLean County Farm Bureau, Growmark, and the Funk Family Foundation.

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