Virginia Western Community College announced a new Associates Degree in Agriculture last Thursday in Roanoke that will be available beginning this fall. The program is designed to be flexible and tailored to individual student needs.

Keynote speakers at the announcement event included Dr. Robert Sandel (left), president of Virginia Western Community College, Bettina Ring, Virginia secretary of agriculture, Amy White, dean of STEM at Virginia Western Community College, and Terry Austin, delegate for the 19th House District.
Submitted Photo

The Agriculture Program is transferrable to four-year college, where students can pursue career paths such as extension work, agricultural education, agribusiness and veterinary medicine, for example. Alternatively, if students are not interested in transfer they can modify the program to include technical skills, such as welding, which can help them in their home agribusinesses. Currently there are approximately 330 different careers available in the agricultural industry.

The Roanoke Region has a robust agricultural history and we are excited to be offering this truly outstanding program to students,” said Dr. Robert H. Sandel, President of Virginia Western. “Helping individuals develop the skills they need to succeed in an 21st Century farming and agricultural landscape, we believe we will have a lasting positive economic impact on our region.”

Virginia Western hosted a launch event for its new Agriculture Program featuring guest speakers and supporters such as Virginia Secretary of Agriculture Bettina Ring and Delegate Terry L. Austin.

Specialized classes such as animal science, plant science and forestry will provide students the basic skills needed to maintain livestock, land and forests. Other classes in the program, such as agribusiness and welding can provide skills needed to handle farm finances and farm maintenance or provide an avenue of additional income.

Agriculture is interwoven into the history of our region, which is home to more than 4,000 farms,” Austin said. “Virginia Western’s Ag program will ensure that farming remains one of our cornerstone industries for decades to come.”

In addition to launching the Agriculture Program, Virginia Western announced a new guaranteed transfer agreement between the program and Ferrum College’s Agricultural Sciences major. Students completing the Virginia Western Agriculture Program will be able to begin as a junior at Ferrum and focus on the emphasis areas of Animal Science, Agribusiness, Agronomy, Horticulture and Equine Studies.

On the day prior to the kick off, VWCC faculty participated in the Virginia-North Carolina AgBio Conference in Danville. This meeting convened policy makers, farmers, thought leaders, educators, public health officials and industry partners to bring innovative bioscience and technology to the farms.

As a sixth-generation farmer in this region, the launch of this program really touches my heart because I know how much of a difference it will make in putting students on the path to personal and professional success,” White said. “The local agriculture industry impacts our lives in countless ways on a daily basis, and by passing on the best practices and most up-to-date knowledge and technology, we can ensure it continues to thrive for decades to come. Agriculture is vital to the health and economic success of our region, and it is our privilege to contribute to this robust and dynamic industry.”

For more details about the Agriculture Program, visit http://virginiawestern.edu/academics/stem/programs/sciagri.php or call the School of STEM at 540-857-7273.

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