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Indiana partnership offers 4-year degree alternative
Indiana Correspondent

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — High school seniors interested in pursuing careers in agriculture will have an alternative to four-year degree programs, thanks to partnerships formed by Purdue University, Ivy Tech State Community College and Vincennes University.

Ivy Tech will offer associate’s degrees in business administration with an agribusiness concentration, starting at some locations this fall. Graduates of this program could pursue jobs in agriculture-related fields in the areas of sales and manufacturing.

In addition to the agribusiness degree, Ivy Tech also plans to develop a more technically focused agriculture degree program that would include curriculum in animal, crop and horticultural production, and specialized fields such as biofuels.

At Lincoln High School in Wayne County, Pat Redden teaches vocational agriculture to 110 students. Most of his students are looking toward nontraditional agricultural careers: natural resources, landscaping, horticulture and some animal science. An Ivy Tech campus just 15 minutes away in Richmond could be a site for ag courses.

“It would be great, if students don’t have the resources or can’t make it to Purdue or other land grant colleges, this would be a stepping stone for them to see what type of program they want to follow,” Redden said. “It would have course work relative to all those areas.”

The content for the agricultural courses at Ivy Tech will be designed in consultation with Purdue College of Agriculture faculty and will be taught by approved instructors accredited in those fields. College credit for approved agriculture courses also will transfer to Purdue for students who decide to pursue additional studies.

Randy Woodson, dean of the Purdue’s College of Agriculture, said the venture will also fill a gap formerly supplied by the winter short courses at Purdue, which allowed those engaged in farming to broaden their education over the winter months.

“Purdue is the leader in agriculture in our state, and this partnership can only benefit all of us,” said Mary Ostrye, dean of academic affairs at Ivy Tech in Lafayette.

“We plan to bring some students into the system to study agriculture who may not be ready for a university setting. We want to get them excited about education and hope that many of our students will eventually go on to Purdue to earn bachelor’s degrees.”

Vincennes has a long-standing partnership in agriculture education with Purdue Agriculture through the VU/Purdue Cooperative Agriculture Transfer Program, celebrating its 50th anniversary. The VU agriculture major will transfer into more than 40 Purdue majors. A Purdue faculty member works at Vincennes for program coordination, student advising and teaching.

VU also offers associates of science programs in agribusiness, horticulture technology and John Deere equipment service.

Under the new agreement, VU plans to expand agricultural opportunities for students in the areas of biochemistry, biotechnology and agricultural engineering, as well as develop new dual-credit programs with high schools.

Stephanie Warner, program specialist for the Indiana FFA Assoc., said the partnerships offer a good opportunity for students.

“It’s exciting for us,” she said. “For students who know they are going into ag at Purdue or Vincennes, they could get a head start in high school or get advanced placement classes.”

Purdue’s extension educators, placed in all Indiana counties, will provide support for the new academic programs.

“We will help identify instructors in some areas and may contribute program ideas that enhance the educational offerings,” said David Petritz, associate dean and director of Purdue Extension.

This farm news was published in the May 24, 2006 issue of Farm World.