KLAMATH FALLS — Klamath Community College’s agriculture program is evolving to incorporate more modern technology and better understanding of global markets under direction of its new program lead, Isadora Peres De Souza.
Offering both an Agriculture Science Associate of Applied Science Degree and a one-year Farm and Ranch Manager Career Pathway Certificate, curriculum is structured around the study of soil cultivation, crop production, livestock care, plant science, raising fish, agriculture management, mechanization, and natural resource management. These varied courses prepare KCC graduates for a wide variety of career opportunities related to agriculture.
Under De Souza’s new leadership, the program is adapting to integrate international and community partnerships to merge understanding of the impact of local and global markets and environmental factors on the industry. Further, De Souza hopes to utilize more modern technology such as soil sensors and drone technology within the program.
Currently, the KCC Agriculture Program has close ties with Walker Farms, Masami Foods, and Basin Fertilizer, but De Souza hopes more local businesses and regional farms and ranches can partner with the college as well for educational, internship, and employment opportunities for agriculture students.
Hired in January, De Souza recently relocated to Klamath Falls from Mississippi. A Brazilian native, she has participated in exchange programs with the United States and Guatemala to study integrated pest management and phytotechnology (science and engineering to find solutions for plant growth), while also working as an entomologist and instructor for ongoing projects in Burundi, Tanzania, Kenya, and Brazil. De Souza is currently studying to receive a Doctorate of Philosophy in Agronomy from Mississippi State University. She already has a Bachelor’s Degree in Agronomy and Master of Science in Entomology both from Federal University of Lavras (Brazil).
“Agriculture programs should have an international focus, because it is international markets that set the price,” explained De Souza. “Even from here in Klamath they are selling products all around the world. So, if we train students here who stay local, they still need to have a global understanding about how prices are set and may change, and how what affects us in the local basin can come from a much bigger environment.”
Through KCC’s Agriculture Program students get hands-on experience, from partnering with local agricultural producers, to managing livestock and crops reared and cultivated on the KCC main campus, to site visits such as
a recent trip to Klamath Falls based Masami Foods meat packing facility to learn how farmers bring livestock to slaughter followed by USDA assessment, meat storage, shipping, and selling on an international scale.
De Souza hopes inclusion of soil sensor and drone technology implementation into KCC coursework will better prepare students for high-demand technical work sought by the agricultural industry. The program also includes extensive animal sciences, connecting with the Klamath Basin’s rich ranching history.
“It is essential to have technology in agriculture,” added De Souza. “I want to invest in technology courses that showcase how drones and soil sensors can make agriculture more efficient and profitable. We are also looking for community needs, and are seeking partnerships that can support us on that. We need to collaborate to find crops more resilient to drought, and are working with Oregon State University and various companies for development of forage crops as well.”