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New Sustainable Agriculture Program Will Support The Region

Posted July 1, 2019 at 10:46 am

Beginning this August, Pennsylvania Highlands Community College is excited for the start of its new certificate in Sustainable Hydroponic Agriculture and Rural Entrepreneurship (SHARE). This quick certificate program can be completed in less than a year and is designed to bolster our region and its residents.

The SHARE program covers both traditional agribusiness and the emerging field of controlled environment agriculture. In partnership with Sandyvale Memorial Gardens and Conservancy, students will have gained experience through both theory and practical hands-on application in a greenhouse using actual hydroponic equipment. The College will use Sandyvale’s facility for both hydroponic and traditional greenhouse plant growth training.

“This partnership will provide Sandyvale with a more hands-on presence in the greenhouse to facilitate operations and make necessary improvements as needed, helping fulfill our mission of offering yet another educational programming initiative to the community,” stated Ron Kabo, Sandyvale Director of Greenhouse Operations.

Diana Kabo added, “The Sandyvale partnership with Penn Highlands will provide a diverse and unique hands-on training opportunity in a real working greenhouse that will complement the classroom studies of the students and help them learn through real-life scenarios how to deal with issues related to alternative agriculture production.”

The SHARE certificate consists of 10 classes (22 credits). Upon completion, graduates are ready for employment in various aspects of agribusiness industries.

“Students who train in this program will be experienced, confident, problem-solving individuals positioned for forward-thinking careers in alternative agricultural programs that will fulfill a predicted future need in feeding populations all over the world without having to deal with the impact of weather, insects, and soil conditions,” stated Bill Horner, Sandyvale President. “They will be trained to produce food in a controlled environment, at a much faster pace, year-round and be able to predict harvest yields more precisely. Also, hopefully, this exposure at Sandyvale will stimulate student interest in supporting their communities, establishing a life-long habit of engagement wherever they reside.”

Carissa Itle-Westrick of Vale Wood Farms added, “Students that complete the SHARE program will have skills and knowledge that make them attractive candidates for employment within rural and agricultural businesses. Applicants that come to us having completed this training will have earned a spot at the top of our hiring list.”

Applicants are still being accepted for the College’s SHARE certificate program. Classes are set to start on the first day of the fall semester, Monday, August 26th.

Pennsylvania Highlands has six locations throughout the Southern Alleghenies region that serve residents of western Pennsylvania.