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Ventura College Wins USDA Grant

September 11, 2003|From a Times Staff Writer

Ventura College has received a $300,000 federal grant to train students for jobs in Ventura County's $1-billion farm industry.

The grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture will help establish courses that will train students for high-tech jobs in agriculture-related businesses, officials said.

The classes will permit students to work toward a certificate that will help them transfer to four-year institutions with agriculture programs, such as Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Cal State Fresno, to continue their education.

"We expect that students will find this new program an excellent training opportunity for the high-tech agriculture industry in our area," said professor Bill Thieman, head of the agriculture and biological sciences department at Ventura College.

"Winegrowers, greenhouses, hydroponics and support industries need employees with these skills and are willing to pay higher salaries to employees with the appropriate training," he said.

As part of their studies, students in the program will learn about global positioning, which farmers use to guide their tractors, and about collecting data from field sensors. They will also be able to participate in internships with local agriculture-related businesses.

The courses funded by the grant are expected to become available next spring.

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