GCC’s First-Ever Agricultural Event Draws 120 Participants Board of Trustees Hear

BATAVIA, NY – Genesee Community College’s Precision Agriculture Summit, held Monday, April 4, 2016, attracted 120 participants, including local growers, technical professionals, agricultural suppliers and students, Executive Vice President for Planning and Institutional Effectiveness William T. Emm reported to the Board of Trustees that evening.

The first-ever Summit featured a keynote address by Marc Vanacht, principal of AG Business Consultants, an internationally-recognized authority on emerging precision agriculture issues. The Summit also featured sessions on the use of aerial drones in crop production, management of precision agriculture data, business issues related to precision agriculture, career opportunities in the precision agriculture field, and opportunities for agriculture industry leaders to voice their needs about future precision agriculture education.

Precision agriculture is an emerging specialty that focuses on the collection and analysis of technical agriculture data, and the use of the data in agriculture planning and management. Precision agriculture typically uses geospatial tools, including satellite data and aerial drones, to collect and measure soil composition, moisture, fertilizers, and other crop inputs. Precision agriculture technology can also be used to manage dairy and livestock production.

Highly sophisticated technology can enable producers to measure and analyze production elements in exceptional detail, Mr. Emm told trustees. “The technology gives producers very important business tools, which can lead to gains in productivity and profitability,” he said.

Trustee Laurie Miller described the characteristics and operation of modern tractors for her trustee colleagues. “Modern tractors are packed with computer monitors that measure and manage anything a farmer needs, from seed to fertilizer,” she said. “Technology is everywhere on modern farms, and the technology requires training.”
President James M. Sunser and Mr. Emm both called trustees’ attention to the importance of agriculture in the College’s Genesee-Livingston-Orleans-Wyoming county region. “Agriculture is our number one industry,” Dr. Sunser said. “I have learned so much about agriculture over the last five years, and I have a deep appreciation for the industry and the very skilled people who make up the industry in our region.”

Mr. Emm said that the College plans to develop coursework in precision agriculture. He said that initiatives in the near future could include credentialing and certificate programs.

In other business Monday evening, the Board of Trustees:

  • Heard Provost Kathleen M. Schiefen report that hundreds of students participated in the College’s first-ever Scholars Symposium, held Tuesday, March 29 at the Batavia Campus. The symposium provided staff, working with faculty mentors, to conduct and present original research and produce original creative works. The symposium’s keynote address by Columbia University Professor and Pulitzer-prize winning author Eric Foner attracted more than 225 participants. Research and creative projects ranged from an international photography project conducted in collaboration with students in Mexico to bacterial analysis studies.
  • Reaffirmed Board policies on college banking, risk management, tuition refunds, and Title IV repayments, as part of the Board’s ongoing review of policies.
  • Approved a three-year renewal of the contract between the College and the Genesee Educational Association, which represents faculty and professional staff members. The contract has been in effect for more than 35 years. The renewal provides annual salary increases of 2%.
  • Heard Dr. Sunser report that New York State’s 2016-2017 state budget provides for an adjustment of $100 in state aid per full-time-equivalent community college student. The adjustment is welcome, Dr. Sunser told trustees, but New York State community college aid is still less than it was 10 years ago, in both real and inflation-adjusted terms. Community college trustees, presidents, and SUNY officials had called on the State Legislature and Governor to increase aid to $285 per full-time-equivalent student.
  • Heard Dr. Sunser report that two individuals have joined the College’s staff, replacing staff members who recently left the College. Bethany Aradine is the College’s new Assistant Director of Human Resources. Ms. Aradine is a graduate of GCC (A.A.S., 2000) and Empire State College (B.S., 2011). She comes to GCC from the Gates-Chili Central School District. Ms. Aradine is a resident of Bergen. C. Justin Berg is the College’s new Disability Services Coordinator. Mr. Berg holds degrees from GCC (A.S., 1995), SUNY College at Brockport (B.S., 1998), and Canisius College (M.S., 2000). Mr. Berg comes to GCC from SUNY Cobleskill, where he served as coordinator of AccessABILITY Resources. Mr. Berg is a resident of Attica.
  • Accepted a generous donation of 13 bridal gowns and 102 bridesmaids’ gowns of assorted sizes, styles and designers, from M.A. Carr Bridal Shop. The gowns will be used in the College’s 35th annual Fashion Show, scheduled Saturday, April 30. After the Fashion Show, the gowns will be used as lab material, permitting students to learn and practice design and alteration techniques. The gowns are valued at $34,435.

For further information contact Donna Rae Sutherland, associate director of Marketing Communications at 585-343-0055 x 6616 or dsutherland@genesee.edu