In 2010, Elgin ISD joined the Austin Community College taxing district, and in exchange, residents asked the community college to provide agricultural programs.
ACC did so, adding a continuing education program in sustainable agriculture that began offering courses in 2014.
Last year, ACC opened Phase 2 of its Elgin campus, adding new facilities for both agriculture students and for students studying veterinary technology.
Now, the community college is taking another step in expanding its agriculture classes in Elgin, adding an associate of applied science degree program in sustainable agriculture and an associate of science program in agricultural science.
“This is the culmination of what we started a very long time ago,” ACC Vice President of Instruction Mike Midgley said at a March 4 board of trustees meeting.
The programs will begin in January 2020, according to documents provided at the board of trustees meeting. The sustainable agriculture program will be designed to prepare students for positions in sustainable farming or other small-scale farming enterprises, while the agricultural science program will be intended for students planning to transfer to a four-year institution to receive a bachelor’s degree in an agricultural subject.
Agricultural Sciences Department Chairperson Savannah Rugg said future opportunities will expand both locally in Austin because of the city’s commitment to local food production and statewide because of the creation of new positions like food coordinators—someone who brings local farmers together to help with production.
“I see in the future there’s going to be a lot more facets than just people going in and starting their own farms,” Rugg said.