Montgomery Community College Secures $375,000 in Golden LEAF Foundation Funding
Published on Friday, July 24th, 2020
Montgomery Community College is pleased to announce it has received $375,000 in funding support from the Golden LEAF Foundation, a nonprofit organization established in 1999 to receive half of North Carolina’s funds from the master settlement agreement with cigarette manufacturers. The funds are part of the foundation’s Community Based Grants Initiative, targeting investments in the building blocks of economic growth: agriculture, economic development, education, infrastructure, workforce development and health care.
The College applied for grant funding to support and expand its sustainable agriculture program, which provides opportunities for students to obtain an associate degree, diploma, and/or certificate in the field. Students are exposed to aspects of modern farming techniques which can be applied to operations ranging from small personal farms, family farms to small/medium corporate farming efforts. Transfer to four-year programs is also an option through existing agreements with North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University and North Carolina State University.
“We are grateful to the Golden LEAF Foundation for its support of our proposed sustainable agriculture programming,” said Dr. Chad Bledsoe, president of Montgomery Community College. “This investment will change the landscape of our curriculum offerings, and the landscape of our campus as well!” The College is set to begin construction of a 30 X 96 foot “high hoop” style greenhouse to aid in plant cultivation.
Grant funds will allow the College to add a horticulture/greenhouse program and series that focuses on regionally-appropriate plants, irrigation and static pressure-based ventilation. The funds will also support continuing education for Montgomery county residents, expanding current program offerings such as Bee Keeping and Agriculture Business.
The grant will allow the College to expand its partnership with North Carolina Cooperative Extension by allowing for a demonstration site for extension program offerings, tying industry experts to College programs onsite to better serve the needs of existing farmers as well as introduce the next generation through youth training programs.
The grant will serve to expand the partnership between the College and Montgomery County Schools. The College offers dual enrollment in college level career programs, allowing high school students to begin taking college level courses as early as the ninth grade. The grant will even build the connection of agriculture training with the career exploration component to Montgomery County middle school students, helping them identify interest and skills at an earlier age.
Lastly, the Golden LEAF grant will facilitate engagement with local farmers. There are approximately 25 growers in Montgomery County that use greenhouses for production, and the College is aiming to expose more to this type of growing environment. Local farmers struggle with unforeseen weather conditions and changing environments, which result in temperature swings and inconsistent rainfall. The ability to control environmental conditions will be helpful to many farmers in the area. In addition to the 30 X 96 greenhouse, grant funds will go to purchase equipment to support the program.