Richland Community College is pleased to announce the participants of the inaugural agricultural education pre-service internship program. The initiative was identified as need by agricultural education organizations in Illinois and the Illinois State Board of Education to address the teacher shortage gap.

Richland Community College is administering the nine-week summer internship program that is designed to recruit and retain agricultural educators. Through work-based learning experiences, the internship program will develop the pre-service teachers’ technical skills which will be critical to their success.

The following selected participants are pursuing a bachelor’s in agricultural education and are committed to becoming a high school agricultural teacher and FFA advisor: Maggie Biffar (Southern Illinois University), Alexis Carroll (Southern Illinois University), Zoey Dye (University of Illinois / Parkland Community College), Emily Friese (University of Illinois), Nik Hanson (Illinois State University), Luke Jesgarz (Western Illinois University), Kennedi Knackmuhs (University of Illinois), and Laurel Keyt (Western Illinois University / Spoon River Community College).

“The Richland Community College agriculture program is eager to kick-off this first year of the agricultural education pre-service internship program,” said Jess Smithers, Director of Agricultural Programs at Richland.  “It is great opportunity for these future teachers to hone their skills through training and real-world work experience.”

If you would like more information about the agricultural programs at Richland Community College, contact Jess Smithers at 217-875-7211, ext. 6223, or Dave Shiley at 217-875-7211, ext.6408. Visit us on the web at

The Richland Community College Agriculture program consists of an Associate in Arts (transfer degree) and Associate in Applied Science degrees in Agribusiness, Crop Science, and Horticulture.  Richland’s campus includes 120+ acres of farmland, we are the host of the Farm Progress Show every other year, and we are located in the Agribusiness capital of the world, all which enable the agriculture program to meet our mission of exposing, preparing, and connecting students to careers in Agriculture.