JJC Receives Illinois Outstanding Postsecondary Program Award for Agriculture

The National Association of Agricultural Education (NAAE) honored Joliet Junior College’s Agricultural and Horticulture Sciences Department with the Illinois Outstanding Postsecondary Program Award during the Illinois Association of Vocational Agriculture Teachers Conference in Bloomington this summer.

Agriculture Professors Bill Johnson and Jeff Landers are pictured with the Outstanding Postsecondary Program Award for Agriculture.

This award puts JJC in the running for the regional award, an honor the NAAE will recognize at its December conference. And JJC is no stranger to that regional award – the ag program received the title in 2002.

According to Agriculture Professor Bill Johnson, JJC’s ag program is special because many of its 170 students are out of district, coming from small towns in central Illinois who have heard about JJC through word of mouth.

“We have so many alumni, and I’m happy they are spreading the word about our great program,” said Johnson, who has been teaching at the college for 49 years. Through Johnson’s time as a professor, he’s had the pleasure of teaching his students’ children and grandchildren.

Another perk of JJC’s ag program is the number of available paid internship opportunities. Johnson said when he and the rest of the ag faculty are not teaching, they spend a lot of time and effort maintaining relationships with employers so they can offer these opportunities to their students.

The ag program places such an importance on internships that students enrolled in JJC’s two-year program are required to obtain one to graduate. Students in JJC’s ag transfer program don’t have to get an internship, but many of them still do because of the amount of opportunities available, including positions in Illinois and as far out as New Mexico.

“We think internships are important because it gives our students hands-on experience and it will help them find jobs after graduation,” Johnson said.

In addition to its internships, JJC ag students get experience out in the field at its 107-acre demonstration and research farm, and at JJC’s Weitendorf Agricultural Education Center.

The NAAE chose this award for JJC’s ag program based on its teaching philosophy, instruction, experiential learning, student organizations, partnerships, marketing and professional growth.

For more information about JJC’s Agricultural and Horticultural Sciences Department, visit www.jjc.edu/ag

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