Harford Community College is establishing the state's first associate of arts degree program in environmental technology.
The course is intended to prepare students for entry-level jobs.
The college announced last week that it has received a $25,000 grant from the Maryland Higher Education Commission to create the program. The money will be used to develop a curriculum.
Courses, which likely would focus on science, could be offered as early as the fall 1995 term, said Dr. Diane Troyer, the college's vice president of academic and student affairs. "This grant will help us develop credit courses that will take us to another phase of development of an environment technology program in this region," Dr. Troyer said.
At least two other Maryland community colleges -- in Cecil and Garrett counties -- have environmental studies programs, but they don't teach job skills, said MHEC spokesman Jeff Welsh.
Students who graduate from Harford's proposed program could be qualified for such jobs as air quality technicians, air pollution monitors and solid waste managers, Dr. Troyer said.
The college already offers five noncredit environmental courses.
College officials also proposed last year to build a regional environmental research center. HCC officials are continuing to pursue it, Dr. Troyer said.
The state grant money was awarded to the college because of community need and interest, officials said.
"We're in a prime location," said Del. Mary Louise Preis, D-District 34, who helped negotiate the MHEC grant.
Starting this month, the college is sending surveys to county businesses that deal with the environment to gauge what types of job skills they need. A committee of college faculty and community members will decide what courses the HCC program should include based on the survey information.
Money for equipment and faculty salaries has yet to be found, Dr. Troyer said.