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Kondenar_Bernard-Web2

Degree or certificate program: sustainable agriculture; planning on earning an A.A.S. in 2017, then transfer to a four-year school to earn a bachelor's degree in plant science.

Hometown: Born in Chicago; grew up in Roselle, Ill.

Now living in: Antioch, Ill.

Interests and hobbies: Gardening, sustainable farming, beekeeping and carpentry.

Bernard Kondenar

I’m a self-employed contractor who’s excited to make a career change. During the recession of 2008 when the construction industry declined, I became interested in renewable energy and environmental sustainability. After taking a CLC non-credit class in solar power and other renewable energy sources, I enrolled in the sustainable agriculture degree program.

When you look at the hidden costs of food, you begin to realize the importance of knowing where your food comes from. Buying food grown locally keeps dollars in the local economy, and it reduces the greenhouse gases and energy consumption associated with food trucked in from thousands of miles away. I have three children, and providing them with fresh, locally grown food means better health for them and for future generations.

When I walked into my first class, Introduction to Horticulture, and noticed the wide range of ages and experience, I didn’t feel so bad about re-inventing myself at mid-life. Since then, I’ve enjoyed the hands-on learning in all the courses, from soils to greenhouse production. In my practicum project, it was very rewarding to work with others in building CLC’s new apiary (bee colony). Bees are important pollinators for many fruits, vegetables and nuts. The horticulture instructors are always willing to help you outside of class, such as writing reference letters for scholarship applications.

It was a real honor to receive two prestigious industry scholarships: the Denny R. Church Memorial Scholarship from the Illinois Landscape Contractors Association and a 2016 Proven Winners® 2-Year/Technical School scholarship. The funding makes it easier for me to get involved in extra-curricular activities and community service.

Outside of class, I’ve really enjoyed serving as a student senator and as the student representative to the CLC Board of Trustees. It’s great to listen to students’ concerns, and I’ve made new friends. CLC is one of most diverse places I’ve encountered. In the morning news, you hear of so much conflict, then you walk into this building and there’s none of it. I see people getting along anywhere. I’ve relished the chance to work with the Men of Vision club, Latino Alliance and others.

After earning a bachelor’s degree, I eventually would like to operate my own permaculture learning farm, which is designed to mimic the patterns and relationships found in nature and illustrate environmentally friendly practices such as composting.