Published: April 5, 2018

MSU Institute of Agricultural Technology graduates 124th class

Contact(s): James Dau AgBioResearch, Beth Brauer University Communications, Eileen Gianiodis Agriculture and Natural Resources office: (517) 432-1555, ext. 230 cell: (517) 242-4753

The MSU Institute of Agricultural Technology graduated its 124th class of 175 students on March 25. The IAT is the third largest unit in the MSU College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, with interest and enrollment increasing 11 percent over the last academic year and 32 percent in the last three years.

Sean McGorisk just graduated with his certificate in golf course turfgrass management from MSU’s IAT program, and now he’s headed to Iowa and the next step in his career.

“It was an easy decision to come to school at MSU,” said McGorisk, who has already lined up a job as assistant superintendent of a Des Moines country club. “Everyone I’ve worked for in the industry said they valued this institution and the education they received here.”

In the long-term, McGorisk hopes to become superintendent and, eventually, general manager of a country club; he credits his MSU education as a crucial stepping stone to achieving his dream.

“I always knew I wanted to go into the golf industry,” McGorisk said. “MSU gave me the tools and management skills, as well as the scientific background, to excel in it.”

Founded in 1894, the IAT delivers innovative, educational programs that develop career-ready graduates through intensive, practical learning and skill enhancement in agricultural, environmental and applied technologies. 

Certificate programs can be completed in three to four semesters. They are offered on MSU’s campus in East Lansing and in partnership with several Michigan community colleges.

“Our certificate programs are highly respected statewide and nationally, and several have international reputations,” said Randy Showerman, director of IAT. “Classes are taught by faculty and staff in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, so students gain from the research and extension programs at Michigan State University. IAT students are considered – and truly are – Spartans.”

Ron Hendrick, dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, said that offering certificate programs for students who are place based and working with community colleges works for everyone involved.

“As a land-grant university, our work is to get education to Michigan’s residents, and we have the expertise in these largely agricultural skill areas to do that,” he said. “Community colleges want programs that will help students get jobs and some students, whether by choice or by circumstance, want or need to stay close to home.”

Another compelling reason to offer certificate programs is to help fulfill the need for a qualified workforce in the food and agriculture industry. Michigan’s $100-billion-a-year food and agriculture industry supports nearly one million jobs in the state. While Michigan’s agriculture production has expanded – workforce development and places to train those students on the latest equipment have not kept pace, Hendrick said.  

“Workforce shortages limit the agriculture industry’s growth,” Hendrick said. “Job opportunities in production, processing, distribution and food safety are available in Michigan. Our job is to train students, whether here or closer to home, to fill these jobs.”

Showerman said that working closely with industry and communities to develop new programs that train students in available jobs, for instance, food processing, is the IAT mission.

“Our predecessors in IAT did the same thing we’re doing today – talking to industry stakeholders, figuring out what skills students need and offering programs in those areas,” he said. “Today, it’s food processing. We recognize the need for a food processing certificate, so we look at what it will take, academically and facility-wise to make that happen. Processors around the state need a qualified workforce – they need our students.”