Michigan State University Ag Tech Program students develop job skills near home

Off-campus MSU Ag Tech programs provide agricultural education, skill development and job opportunities for students close to home.

When Tyler Wirick ended his service with the United States Coast Guard, he went looking for a career path that would allow him to work outdoors. His exploration led him to consider agriculture. Without a farm background, how was he to get started? With an Internet search, the Indiana native discovered the off-campus Michigan State University Ag Tech program at Lake Michigan College. What he discovered exceeded his expectations.

In addition to his coursework in viticulture, Tyler participated in a field practicum with an area grape grower and winery. “Being pushed out in the field and getting the hands-on experience is probably the valuable part of the program,” said Wirick. This past summer he worked on research projects related to hoop house crops and hops at Michigan State University. Once Wirick completes his education, he plans to work in the grape and wine industry.

"We currently have more demand for viticulture interns and graduates in southwest Michigan than we have students in the program here," says Stacey Rocklin, MSU IAT Coordinator. "Being a part of our program has opened doors for our students they may not have found otherwise, simply because we have the agriculture community working with us. This community brought these programs to Lake Michigan College and continue to support the programs through volunteering their time to teach students during lab sessions, by offering internships and field practice, along with being guest speakers for classes in their areas of expertise."

Michigan State University Institute of Agricultural Technology off-campus coordinators guide prospective students through the application process, creation of a course of study, and student internship. All MSU IAT courses are taught by Michigan State University approved faculty and Michigan State University Extension staff and credits earned are fully transferable to on-campus bachelor’s degree programs.

To obtain information about VESTA and off-campus MSU IAT Applied Plant Science certificate programs and admission requirements, go online to: http://iat.msu.edu, or call 517-355-0190. Lake Michigan College-based Coordinator, Stacey Rocklin, may be reached at 269-927-8772 rocklin@msu.edu, and Northwestern Michigan College-based Coordinator, Brian Matchett at 231-995-1719, matchet4@msu.edu.

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