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Vermont Tech Awarded $3.4 Million Grant to Support Applied Agriculture and Food Systems Institute

Thursday, September 27, 2012
Vermont Technical College is pleased to announce that it has been awarded a Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) Grant in the amount of $3.4 million. Implemented through the Department of Labor, TAACCCT provides eligible institutions of higher education with funds to expand and improve their ability to deliver education and career training programs. This grant will support The Vermont Applied Agriculture and Food Systems Institute at Vermont Tech, which serves the education and training needs of State industries that support agriculture, food production, waste disposal and energy production. 

“This grant is instrumental in allowing Vermont Tech to improve upon our degree and college-level certificates and help meet the trade employment needs throughout the State,” said Vermont Tech President Phil Conroy. “It is an honor to have received this grant and we look forward to furthering the important task of educating and training our students in Vermont industries.” 

The Institute will use a cooperative education learning model to provide certificate and degree programs that lead to high wages and high-skill employment specifically for workers eligible for training under the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program. Institute partners include the Community College of Vermont, state government and businesses within Vermont’s agriculture, waste management and energy sectors.

The Institute for Applied Agriculture and Food Systems focuses on food processing and production, dairy farm management with an emphasis on soil conservation, and an innovative approach to energy production. This grant allows Vermont Tech to move forward in building a dairy and food processing facility for both college and community use. This processing center will have two production spaces with one dedicated to processing milk into fluid milk, cheese, ice cream, butter, yogurt and other dairy products, while the other will process, prepare, package and freeze vegetables, fruit and berries. 

“Giving Vermont workers the skills they need to find work in the global economy should be our number one economic priority,” noted Senator Patrick Leahy, who wrote to the Department of Labor in favor of the grant. “The Applied Agriculture and Food Systems Institute can help Vermonters looking for work gain valuable and sought after skills and help Vermont's agricultural economy flourish."

 All programs within the Institute will begin with Summer Institutes and One-Year Certification Programs. These certificate programs will lead to employment in the content areas and/or articulation to associate and bachelor’s degree programs at Vermont Tech. These degree programs include Food Processing Technician Training, Meat Cutters Certification Program, Farm Equipment Repair Training, Soil Conservation Technician Training, Herdmanager Certification, Agriculture Loan Officer Training and Biodigester Technician Training.

The TAACCCT was authorized in 2009 after the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act amended the Trade Act of 1974. When President Barack Obama signed the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act in 2010, funding for the TAACCCT program was included as $2 billion over four years. The training programs eligible for funding are programs that can be completed in two years or less, are suited for workers who are eligible for training under the TAA for Workers program, and prepare program participants for employment in high-wage, highly skilled occupations. The Department of Labor is implementing the TAACCCT program in partnership with the Department of Education.

“Advancing employment opportunities in the agriculture and energy sectors is an important step forward for Vermont,” added Congressman Peter Welch. “This development will bring much-needed trade and manufacturing jobs to the state.”
About Vermont Technical College – Vermont Technical College is the only public institution of higher learning in Vermont whose mission is applied education. One of the five Vermont State Colleges, Vermont Tech serves students from throughout Vermont, New England, and beyond at its two residential campuses in Williston and Randolph Center, regional campuses in Brattleboro and Bennington and at six nursing campuses located throughout the state. Our academic programs encompass a wide range of engineering technology, agricultural, health, and business fields that are vital to producing the knowledge workers need most by employers in the state and in the region. www.vtc.edu.