Parkland is the only community college in Illinois with a precision ag degree, and Tuesday, the junior-college celebrated its history of agricultural education at its 50th annual Agriculture Banquet.
"The ag banquet is the longest running event in Parkland's history," said Jenni Fridgen, the ag program's director. "We come together to celebrate students' successes every year," along with the industry partners who've supported the program by offering student internships.
For the 50th banquet, Parkland invited alumni of the program and showed a video highlighting the history of agricultural education there.
The ag program at Parkland started in 1967, when the college did, and the first banquet was held in the spring of '68.
Enrollment has grown from 14 to about 200 students now, including the horticulture students.
"When students walk out the door, they'll have experienced it through our land lab," Fridgen said. "The things going on in the land lab are the same things going on in the industry today."
In the late '90s, Parkland started teaching precision ag, recognizing the role technology was starting to play in agriculture.
With precision ag, farmers are able to combine the sensors in their planters with GPS to map where every seed in their field is planted, and they can plant seeds within inches of where they were planted the previous year.