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NIFA Invests $4.8M to Train Ag Workforce

Supporting 12 projects that will offer workforce training by community colleges

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Today, the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) announced an investment of $4.8 million to support 12 projects that will offer workforce training by community colleges. These awards are made possible through the Agricultural and Food Research Initiative’s (AFRI) Agricultural Workforce Training program priority area. This is the first time that the NIFA has specifically targeted community colleges to increase training opportunities for the food and agricultural workforce sector.

“Community colleges provide substantial workforce development throughout the nation,” said NIFA Director Scott Angle. “These awards will lead to workers earning a two-year degree or an industry-accepted credential, which will open better job opportunities in the food and agricultural sector.”

The 12 awardees were selected from over 30 applications after and evaluated by a peer panel knowledgeable about both community colleges and workforce training. “The community colleges and cooperating Institutions range geographically from Rhode Island to Hawaii,” said Angle. “Training subject areas include improving worker skills in nursery production, pesticide application, aquaponics, hydraulic systems, leadership for workers in rural areas, and more.” While diverse in geography and subject matter, the successful projects have three things in common:

  1. Projects must result in needed workforce training at community colleges;
  2. Projects must provide experiential learning opportunities that allow students more time working in job simulation or ‘on-the-job’ training environments; and
  3. Trainees must either receive a two-year degree or an industry recognized credential that will improve their skillset and employability.

The twelve organizations receiving the awards are:

  • West Hills Community College; Coalinga, California $500,000
  • Dakota College at Bottineau; Bottineau, North Dakota $500,000
  • Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech University; Blacksburg, Virginia $500,000
  • Michigan State University; East Lansing, Michigan $499,999
  • South Central College; Faribault and North Mankato, Minnesota $499,657
  • Rhode Island Nursery and Landscape Institute; Kingston; Rhode Island $499,654
  • University of Hawaii Systems; Kahului, Hawaii $498,759
  • Cornell University; Ithaca, New York $495,799
  • Bismarck State College; Bismarck, North Dakota $458,839
  • Chemeketa Community College; Salem, Oregon $273,295
  • Pittsburg State University; Pittsburg, Kansas $95,254
  • Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, Green Bay, Wisconsin $24,897

Award grant details can be found on NIFA’s Current Research Information System website.

NIFA’s mission is to invest in and advance agricultural research, education, and extension to solve societal challenges. NIFA’s investments in transformative science directly support the long-term prosperity and global preeminence of U.S. agriculture. To learn more about NIFA’s impact on agricultural science, visit, sign up for email updates or follow us on Twitter @USDA_NIFA(link is external), #NIFAimpacts(link is external).

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