The hands-on learning of how to use farm machinery in a field can be a challenge if the learning isn’t taking place in a field. However, Madison College is learning how to use the space they have for agricultural instruction. The college is located on the north side of Madison and surrounded by urban sprawl.
Madison College is a public technical and community college. It offers an Agricultural Equipment Program that currently has 12-14 students enrolled. The program falls under the School of Technologies and Trades. Ron Olson serves as the Dean of the School and shares that there are some challenges associated with teaching agriculture in an urban setting.
“We joke though here at Madison College – we farm on blacktop,” explained Olson. “It’s one of the challenges that our instructional staff have in terms of teaching. How do we teach those equipment technologies related to the field without going out into an actual field?”
Olson shared that there are opportunities to go off site for certain educational experiences. The shop where most of the teaching takes place has plenty of agricultural vehicles for students to work with. There are opportunities to do some basic driving in the large parking area next to the shop.