MALTA – Kishwaukee College will offer a new certificate in cannabis and hemp cultivation starting in fall 2021. Kish was one of seven community colleges in Illinois selected for the cannabis community college vocational pilot program.
Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker announced Kish as an inaugural license recipient as part of a sweeping expansion of the state’s legal cannabis industry, which continues to grow and provide more opportunities for careers.
“The program is a vital part of the growing cannabis industry in Illinois and will provide a path to the thousands of new jobs being created right here in Illinois for community college graduates in communities around the state,” the governor’s office said in a press release.
Illinois reported about $670 million in adult-use cannabis sales in 2020 — the first year of legal recreational sales in Illinois. The 2021 totals show Illinois is on pace to exceed $1 billion in sales, and demand for trained professionals in the cannabis industry continues to rise.
The cannabis & hemp cultivation certificate will provide students the opportunity to learn the hands-on knowledge and skills needed for a career in the cannabis or hemp industry.
“This program is a great opportunity for the Kishwaukee College community,” Dean of Instruction Chase Budziak said. “Through collaboration with our industry partner, our established horticulture program is uniquely positioned to train students for emerging high-skill and high-demand positions in the cannabis production industry. Within 10 months, a full-time student will graduate with essential preparation in cannabis production and cultivation.”
The new certificate will require 26 credit hours and can be completed in two semesters at Kish. In addition to taking classes focusing on agriculture and horticulture practices, students will work with sustainable Innovations and its retail brand Buckbee Weed Company, an industry partner in Rockford, to gain hands-on lab experience.
“Right now, there is a tremendous demand for well-trained professionals in the cannabis and hemp industries,” Sustainable Innovations’ General Counsel Erik Carlson said. “For anyone with a passion for cannabis, this certificate will give them the knowledge they need to succeed in the industry.”
Budziak said Kish and Sustainable Innovations will continue to collaborate on future cannabis programming at the college. Additional courses could focus on extraction — separating the target molecules from the cannabis plant — and infusion, which is related to cooking and baking. There are also opportunities to provide short-term training and continuing education classes.
“We hope this is only the beginning of our cannabis-related curriculum,” Budziak said.
Registration is currently in progress for the Fall 2021 semester. Students interested in the cannabis & hemp cultivation certificate can attend one of two upcoming information sessions via Zoom on Thursday, Aug, 12 from 6-7 p.m. and Tuesday, Aug. 17 from 11 a.m. to noon.
The information session will share more on the required courses, travel requirements for the spring semester, and career opportunities in cannabis and hemp, as well as the larger horticulture field.
The fall 2021 semester begins Monday, August 23. For more information visit kish.edu.