The University of Arizona College of Agriculture and Life Sciences is offering off-campus college credit technical agricultural mini-courses designed for working agricultural professionals.

“These courses are directed toward producers, PCAs, crop consultants, distributors, suppliers and others who want to learn more about a specific area and upgrade their skills and understanding,” said Peter Ellsworth, UA entomology IPM specialist based at the Maricopa Agricultural Center (MAC).

The classes will include not only classroom work, but lab and fieldwork as well.

MAC in Maricopa, Ariz., has been the main site for the UA mini-course offerings; however, one course is currently on-going at the UA Yuma Cooperative Extension Auditorium in Yuma, Ariz.

These courses are one-college-unit modules at the upper level undergraduate/beginning graduate level.

Each module consists of four, four-hour classes meeting once a week for a month. Credit may be applied to programs currently offered at UA and Central Arizona College.

“Potential students should understand that university course work will require study outside of class, assignments as well as examinations,” noted Ellsworth.

The curriculum is made up of a diverse set of mini-courses designed to help equip agricultural professionals in their educational and career pursuits. Past courses that have been offered include Soils and Soil Fertility; Agricultural IPM, Diagnosis and Control of Plant Diseases, Urban IPM, Agricultural Business Management & Policy, Turfgrass Pest Management, and Irrigation Systems Management. Several UA faculty members will be involved in the teaching.

Two courses are slated to start this fall, Weed Science for the Practitioner taught by Bill McCloskey, Extension weed specialist, with Pat Clay and Kai Umeda, county agents; and Insect Identification for the Practitioner team taught by Carl Olson, Museum Curator, Dawn Gouge, Kirk Smith, and Peter Ellsworth, Extension and research entomologists. The weeds course begins on the first Wednesday of the semester, Aug. 21 at 2 p.m. at MAC; the insect course begins four weeks later.

Depending on the specific course content of each class session, participants may become eligible for PCA, PCO and CCA continuing education unit credits.

Enrollment information is available from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (520) 621-3612; Maricopa Ag Center (520) 568-2273 or Extended University (800) 955-8632.

“We have recognized a need for modular courses like this for quite some time,” said Jeff Silvertooth, professor and head of the Department of Soil, Water and Environmental Science. “Many of the people we work with in the agricultural community across Arizona have expressed an interest in a more in depth treatment of some of the program areas we work with such as entomology, soil science, irrigation management, plant pathology, economics, etc.”

Silvertooth added that the courses also are meeting a growing interest among students, particularly at community colleges, in taking a class of an applied nature for university credit.