This month, MTEC, which is a joint project of MTSU and Motlow State Community College, will offer four agriculture classes designed for students interested in one of Tennessee's most diversified economic fields.
With more than 4,000 farms in Bedford, Coffee, Marshall and Moore counties, the center is at the hub of an economy fueled largely by agriculture and related fields, such as chicken processing and veterinary medicine.
"This could be your chance to turn your life around," said Dr. Warren Gill, chair of the MTSU Department of Agribusiness and Agriscience. "We want to change people's lives for the better, make them into better citizens, make them more successful, set them up to make more money."
In the spring 2013 semester, which begins next Thursday, Jan. 17, MTEC will offer Agriculture in Our Lives, Soil, Introduction to Agribusiness and Elements of Animal Science.
Dr. Warren Anderson of MTSU will teach the soil class. Gill will teach Agriculture in Our Lives.
"It's a course specifically designed for juniors and seniors to learn how agriculture works in the real world," Gill said.
Students will learn outside the classroom on trips to an extension office, a Farm Bureau office and a working farm operation.
Soil meets on Mondays and Agriculture in Our Lives meets on Wednesdays, both from 1 to 4 p.m.
Doyle Meadows, former chief executive officer of the Shelbyville-based Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration, will teach two online courses, Introduction to Agribusiness and Elements of Animal Science.
"From my perspective, I'm a traditional teacher," said Meadows. "I want students to have an opportunity to learn and grow."
Meadows earned his bachelor's degree at West Texas State University in 1970 and his master's and doctoral degrees from Texas A&M University in 1974 and 1979, respectively.
Bedford County Mayor Eugene Ray said MTEC has obvious benefits for students in Bedford and surrounding counties. In addition to offering college-level courses in everything from school health to intercultural communication, the center eases the hassle factor for busy, working people.
"You get smaller classes, more attention, spend less time driving and more time studying," Ray said.
Gill says students can count on spending an approximate maximum of one to two hours on coursework out of class for every hour they spend in class.
That's what makes MTEC a nonthreatening way for people who haven't been to school in years to stick their toes back in the water and make progress toward earning a four-year degree.
Costs are the same as costs for any other three-credit-hour undergraduate MTSU course, and scholarship money is available.
"Our community should back MTEC," said Meadows. "There'll never be a better opportunity to improve our quality of life."
MTEC is located at 200 Dover St. in Shelbyville. For information on how to enroll and financial aid, contact MTEC at (931) 685-4444. For more information on agriculture courses, contact Gill at 615-898-2404 or firstname.lastname@example.org.