Following a recent tour of an agriculture program at Virginia Tech, one Alabama lawmaker says he wants to see something similar at Auburn University.
State Sen. Sam Givhan (R-Huntsville) was part of a delegation that traveled to Virginia Tech last month to get a close look at the program for future farmers and landscapers.
The group learned about the two-year program that offers a concentrated academic experience to give graduates the opportunity to go from college straight to the farm without taking unnecessary classes.
"It's a very practical program that actually trains people to be farmers and not some sort of hyper-technical specialist," Givhan told 1819 News. "Basically, all of the kids are together for the first or second semester then after that they start splitting off in their specialties."
Specialties include Applied Agriculture Management or Landscape and Turf Management.
The Applied Agriculture Management program includes agribusiness management, livestock production and crop production. It is Virginia Tech's only two-year program.
The Landscape and Turf Management program includes golf/sports turf management and landscaping.
Givhan said he believes the program would benefit future farmers in Alabama.
"They actually teach you how to work on a farm," he said. "There are a lot of kids that are seventh or eighth-generation farm families, but they grew up in the city. They get a little glimpse of it but they didn't get the day-to-day training that those of us that grew up on a farm got. So, I think a lot of people would like to get into agriculture but they don't have the training to really do it."
The program also gives opportunities to younger farmers who want to add to or diversify their family farms.
The Virginia Tech two-year degree is an associate's degree, so Auburn University will not likely adopt a similar program because the school offers four-year bachelor's degrees, master's degrees or Ph.D.s.
Josh Woods, the director of Agriculture Communications and Marketing at Auburn, said although the college doesn't have a two-year tech program, they do partner with community colleges statewide to help students.
"Because a lot of these schools are not in the position to offer these classes themselves, but they offer the prerequisites," Woods said. "So, while they are taking those classes we make sure they have the opportunity to go ahead and take some agriculture classes at Auburn while they're enrolled in those community colleges."
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