SANFORD — North Carolina Tobacco Trust Fund Commission representatives and Central Carolina Community College officials met April 26 to celebrate the importance of grants from the NCTTF to the college’s expansion of its Continuing Education programs.
Since January 2009, the NCTTF has awarded the college grants totaling $70,000. NCTTF officials Chairman J. W. (Billie) Carter III, Executive Director William Upchurch, and Program Officer Jeff Jennings, visited the college’s Lee County Campus to recognize these grants with a symbolic check passing.
The $70,000 funding has helped to make possible two new Continuing Education programs at the college: sustainable agriculture at the West Harnett Center and Natural Chef culinary arts at the Chatham County Campus.
The West Harnett sustainable agriculture program was established in 2009 with a total of $50,000 in NCTTF grants. Sustainable agriculture uses methods and supplies that are healthy for consumers and the environment as well as being profitable for farmers.
The college already offers sustainable agriculture degree, diploma and certificate programs at its Chatham County Campus. Expansion of the sustainable agriculture program at the West Harnett Center is providing more opportunities for home gardeners and commercial farmers to learn these agricultural methods. Students also learn entrepreneurial and technical skills necessary to develop and manage a profitable, environmentally sound, community-based small farm or agricultural business.
The Natural Chef culinary arts program, starting in the fall at the Chatham County Campus, in Pittsboro, is benefiting from a $20,000 NCTTF grant. This diploma program is an outgrowth of, and adjunct to, the sustainable agriculture program at that campus. The emphasis will be on healthy farm-to-table seasonal cooking.
Most of the vegetables, herbs and meats used in the classes will come from the college student farm or organic farms within the local agricultural community. Supportive business training will be incorporated into this program for chefs who want to open a restaurant, cater or manage a kitchen.
“Central Carolina Community College has a strong reputation for workforce training and environmentally friendly sustainable programs, such as sustainable agriculture and our new Natural Chef offering,” said CCCC President Bud Marchant. “The generosity of the NCTTF enables us to reach more residents in our service area of Chatham, Harnett and Lee counties with training for their personal use or for employment in the growing green economy.”
Project Skill-UP is an initiative of the North Carolina Community College System’s Continuing Education Division. It provides grants for workforce training for individuals who have lost tobacco industry-related jobs and also assists communities and businesses in transitioning from tobacco-based economies.
The NCTTF Commission at the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services funds the Project Skill-UP grant program. For 2010-11, it has awarded the System’s Project Skill-UP a total of $750,000 for projects at 24 community colleges. Central Carolina C.C. will receive a portion of that, but the amount has not yet been determined.