FREEPORT, Ill. (WTVO) — Agriculture is business, science and technology. A new addition at Highland Community College will allow more students to excel in the growing field.

Rolling farm fields fill the land of Northwest Illinois. Because the agricultural industry makes up the economic backbone of the region, Highland Community College is adding on to its Ag program with a new agriculture greenhouse. The addition will allow students to further study horticulture and other crop and soil sciences.

“The students actually get to you know, work with the crops,” said Monica Pierce, HCC Ag instructor. “We learn by doing, so that’s the opportunities we’re going to be able to provide our students.”

The 21 by 26-foot greenhouse will allow for more hands-on research and labs.

Funding for the project comes from sponsors and private donors with an interest in the future of agriculture.

“They know that it is a legacy that has helped build northwest Illinois and of all the things we can invest in and support, I know of no other that’s more important than education because training a workforce and educating people to enhance the quality not only professionally, but their quality of life is enhanced by quality education,” said Tim Hood, HCC President.

Highland’s Ag program prepares students for a variety of careers in farming and supporting jobs.

“In ag business, in research, in seed and soil science, in chemicals and fertilizers and all of those things, so there’s a lot of careers that support the producers in our area,” Pierce said.

Administrators say students who take agriculture classes at Highland tend to stay in the local area, a trend this latest addition will help support.

“They’re going to go back to their family farms and to their agri-business employers and they’re going to be better educated and better trained to serve those farms and those businesses who support those farms than they would have been had it not been for this program,” Hood said.

Work on the new greenhouse is expected to be completed in the fall. Students will be able to use it for the spring semester.