Brendan Rowley grew up on a Vermont dairy farm. So, he was prepared for this college class inside a barn. This is his second year at Vermont Technical College where he's part of a team working full time at the school's farm. The goal is to modernize the trade.
"I really enjoy the student involvement on the farm which stuck out for me out of all the dairy programs in the Northeast," Rowley said.
But Tuesday at the farm, something else stuck out-- visitors in bow ties and brand new boots. U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis stopped by the farm.
"I am so deeply moved by what I've seen on the ground," Solis said.
The California native is in the Green Mountain State announcing a $3.4 million grant for VTC.
"You're reinventing yourself, plowing down and getting into new areas that will expand what you're doing in agriculture," Solis said.
The grant will enhance training programs that support agriculture, food production, waste disposal and energy production.
"What's going on in this state and agriculture is exciting, it's happening, it's the place to be," Vt. Agriculture Secretary Chuck Ross said.
Secretary Solis was joined by other Vermont dignitaries, including her longtime friend, Sen. Bernie Sanders.
"Agriculture has been the most significant part of the economy, but like everything else it evolves and moves into new areas," said Sanders, I-Vermont.
VTC will be able to purchase new farm equipment like a digester, allowing them to generate electricity from manure. It will also allow for welding training.
One day of production on the VTC farm currently produces enough milk for the college for a full week. This grant will allow the college to make other products like cheese and butter. The funds will help modernize the farm. But what doesn't change is the hard work.
"Those are good elements to make a productive workforce not only for Vermont, but for the country," Solis said.
And there seems to be a new crop of interested students. Half the kids involved in the program are freshman.
The grant is part of a $2 billion fund, part of which will also retrain returning students.
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