The Perth campus has announced two new programs starting in the fall of 2019.
Starting in September of next year, the campus will offer a one-year certificate in business fundamentals and a two-year diploma in business of agriculture. The programs have been designed to take advantage of the rural settings and smaller communities of Perth and the surrounding areas.
The business fundamentals program is an introduction to concepts ranging from management and business software to accounting and communications. The two-semester program is designed to prepare students for work within administrative offices, community organizations, non-profits and medium-sized businesses.
A bridging pathway exists between the two programs; a student who completes the certificate will have, as of current plans, approximately six courses that transfer into the diploma.
Business of agriculture is the standout of the two programs. Created with the help of the Kemptville College Alumni – an association of former students from Kemptville’s agricultural schools – the goal of the program is to blend agricultural practices with business training so that students can learn to run a farm or otherwise work within the agricultural industry.
The program will teach concepts and skills like livestock and crop management, equipment purchasing practices and government regulations, among others.
“The agriculture business is a pretty sophisticated business,” said Dean Chris Hahn of the Perth campus. “When you think about what dairy quota costs, or if you think about buying a piece of machinery — whether it’s a combine or tractor — you’re talking hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
According to Hahn, there are two primary target markets for the program. The first relates to people currently running an agriculture business, primarily those operating a farm, but also insurance, service businesses that sell seed and feed and even banks that loan money to farmers.
“People who graduate from this program can either go and work directly in the farming business or they can work in all the other businesses that are ancillary to them,” said Hahn.
The second market for the program will be succession planning.
According to a study done by Statistics Canada on demographic changes in Canadian agriculture, the number of farms where the oldest operator was younger than 40-years-old dropped almost 75 per cent between 1991 and 2011, going from 74,159 farms to 20,229. With young farmers a scarce resource, the older generations could benefit from sending their kids off to college in order to learn the family trade.
“You’ve got a lot of farmers who will want to pass the farm onto their son or daughter,” said Hahn. “These folks are really interested in making sure that the younger generation is well positioned to take over the operation. Something like this diploma will assist in that. We’re not going to teach them how to drive a tractor, we’re going to teach them how to buy one.”
According to Hahn, the agriculture community is very supportive of the program, with the Ontario Farm Association and the Lanark Federation of Agriculture looking to establish a relationship with the campus. The Kemptville College Alumni has also discussed a potential scholarship to be awarded to Algonquin agriculture students.
“We built these courses purposely to include a lot of components where students are going to get the chance to interact with the industry,“ said Hahn. “Either by having them [the industry] come into the class – speaking to the class, working with the class on various projects – or they [the students] are going to go out, and they are going to be working within the industry.”
Examples of the industry involvement includes working on farm safety plans with a community player in the industry and helping build financial accounts for local agriculture businesses.
“We want the students to get their hands dirty,” Hahn joked. “[Also], it’s more interesting I think for the students, so they aren’t just in class all day.”