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Drones, GPS-guided tractors and more are coming to a Newton County agriculture class

NEWTON, IN — Drones, GPS-guided tractors and more are coming to a Newton County agriculture class near you.

Newton County schools have received nearly $340,000 in state grant funding to establish a technology-driven agriculture program, according to an announcement Feb. 10 by the Indiana Works Council.

In addition, West Central School Corp. received an $82,354 grant to boost its manufacturing program.

In all, $1.4 million in grants were announced, heading to eight programs across the state.

The grants are the latest win for Indian Trails Career Cooperative — a coalition of 11 schools including North and South Newton and West Central schools.

The collective also includes Carroll, Delphi, Frontier, Kankakee Valley, North White, Rensselaer, Tri-County and Twin Lakes districts.

“There were 43 grant applications for this round and they only selected eight,” said Indian Trails director James Stradling. “Of those eight, two of those came out of Indian Trails. So we’re on cloud nine.”

In January, the collective received a $100,000 grant from the Indiana Department of Education for career and technical education programs to be spread among all 11 schools.

The Newton County program is expected to impact 280 students when it begins this fall, according to the grant proposal. About 230 of those students are expected to earn certifications through the program while 155 are expected to earn dual credit through Ivy Tech Community College.

“Right now, a lot of the kids don’t realize there is so much more technology in farming than there used to be,” Stradling said. “This is a great opportunity for the students to see different parts of agriculture.”

Partners supporting the program include Fair Oaks Farms, Peterson’s Ag Service, Monsanto, the Newton County Surveyor’s Office, Ivy Tech and local farmers.