A new dimension to a longstanding partnership with Service Motor Company is helping grow agriculture training.
It doesn’t take long to realize that the future of the agriculture field, like many other sectors in this economy, depends on the collaboration of both industry and education. For Service Motor Company (SMC) in nearby Dale, one of Wisconsin’s largest agriculture and industrial dealerships, that level of understanding is second nature.
Recently, SMC donated $1.1 million to the Fox Valley Technical College Foundation, Inc. in the form of scholarships, equipment, and monetary support toward the college’s expanded agriculture center. In return, the company received naming rights to the now-called Service Motor Company Agriculture Center at FVTC.
The nearly 3,000-square-foot expansion was part of the college’s successful $66 million public referendum in April of 2012, by a 2-1 margin. The expanded center houses three new high-tech classrooms, two computer labs, and a state-of-the-art tissue lab for Horticulture students.
For more than 30 years, SMC’s collaboration with FVTC has been through the donation of equipment, helping train instructors, preparing interns for careers, and hiring graduates. The most recent partnership with FVTC is very timely, according to Service Motor Company President Jim Sommer. “The agriculture industry is not just alive and well in Wisconsin, but it’s flourishing,” he says. “By providing support to Fox Valley Technical College, we’re helping ensure that the college continues to turn out quality graduates who support our community and industry.”
Another good example of this partnership is the new Precision Agriculture Technician program, which will be offered in January of 2014. “Farming equipment with GPS technology is now essential,” says Mike Cattelino, associate dean of Manufacturing and Agriculture Technologies at FVTC. “We’ll be teaching the technology, as well as how to use and repair the equipment. This is 21st Century soil management, and we’ll be the first in the state to offer it.”
“Within five years, farmers and agri-business professionals will have the capability to operate tractors and other related equipment more precisely than ever before due to emerging technologies,” Sommer says. “In addition, they’ll have operational data at their fingertips to determine the condition of fields and more. This is the wave of the future, and Fox Valley Technical College has the technology to make it happen.”
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