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Heartland Community College approves cannabis certificate program

Heartland Community College wants to prepare students for the fast-growing cannabis industry in Illinois.

The college's board of trustees on Tuesday approved a new certificate in cannabis production, delivery and dispensary operations. It's a two-semester program that would have its graduates ready for an entry-level job.

Heartland Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Rick Pearce said a review of cannabis-related job openings in McLean and nearby counties last year shows there's high demand.

“With 171 job openings, that says to us there is a need for us to step in and provide training so folks can get jobs in that industry,” Pearce said.

Pearce said students won't actually be growing cannabis plants, at least not yet.

“Other programs around the country have used tomato plants as a stand-in for learning how to handle the plant, but initially as we launch this, we won’t have the greenhouses up and running yet, so this will be primarily academic,” Pearce said, adding Heartland would need regulatory approval to grow the plants.

Pearce said the cannabis certificate is four credit hours and can also be stacked as part of an agriculture applied associate's of science degree. That's a two-year program.

The cannabis certificate program is scheduled to start in the spring 2024 semester.

Heartland has also approved a micro-certificate program in data analytics. It’s a two-course entry-level program to help students learn how to interpret data and produce visual demonstrations to foster better understanding.

Pearce said the program will likely be most beneficial for students in career and technical education, but said it can also be taken as a standalone.

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Eric Stock is the News Director at WGLT. You can contact Eric at ejstoc1@ilstu.edu.
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