RCC, NC A&T sign Agribusiness articulation agreementsNov 23, 2020
The brand new Agribusiness Technology program at Rockingham Community College is gaining a lot of traction in this historically agricultural county.
The program began this fall and teaches students the entrepreneurial and technical skills necessary to manage a profitable, environmentally sound, community-based small farm or agriculture business, or to manage agriculturally related operations within diversified corporations.
Graduates of the Agribusiness Technology program qualify for a variety of jobs in the field of agriculture, such as equipment, feed, supply sales, store management, farm operations, wholesale and retail produce management, nursery operations, and environmental and agricultural education.
The Agribusiness Technology program leads to a two-year Associate in Applied Science degree. It already has a Career and Technical Education pathway for local high school students to complete four courses, earning high school credits and 12 college credits at the same time. And now, graduates of the program can transfer many of their RCC credits to Greensboro-based NC A&T.
RCC’s AAS degree requires 65 credit hours. Graduates with at least a 2.5 cumulative grade point average can transfer most of those credits into the Bachelor of Science in Agriculture Education program at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University.
Two degree tracks
NC A&T offers two tracks, Secondary Education and Agricultural Professional Service, both requiring a total of 120 credit hours.
Students pursuing the Secondary Education track will be able to transfer 52 hours from RCC, and will take 67 additional hours at NC A&T that focus on teaching.
Those pursuing the Agricultural Professional Service track can transfer 63 hours from RCC to NC A&T, leaving 58 more hours to take to obtain the B.S. degree there.
“Agriculture is the world’s largest industry. It’s our country’s largest industry, with 23 million individuals employed in agriculture, food and fiber. And it’s an over $90 billion industry in the State of North Carolina,” said Dr. Antoine Alston, associate dean of Academic Studies and interim chair of the Department of Animal Sciences at NC A&T – and also a resident of Rockingham County.
Alston visited RCC on Monday, Nov. 21 to sign the two articulation agreements along with RCC President Dr. Mark Kinlaw.
“It’s so important that we’re producing future agricultural leaders and professionals, through programs like this at RCC and articulating to A&T for the baccalaureate degree in Agricultural Education. It’s a win-win for our state, it’s a win-win for our country, and for our global society when we can produce agricultural leaders,” Alton said, as the ink dried on the agreements.
Agribusiness Technology program begins
When Kinlaw joined RCC six years ago, the College did not have an agricultural program.
“And we’re in a county that was built on agriculture. We had a horticulture program, and wanted to move into more of agribusiness, because that’s where things are headed … well actually, where things already are,” he said.
RCC has renovated its Horticulture building and added a state-of-the-art greenhouse, repaired and refurbished another greenhouse, and is about the construct a storage building.
“We’ve really put an investment in the program, and we have our lead faculty John Ayers who has a long history in agriculture. I really feel good about the students we can attract. But getting connected to NC A&T with its long history in agricultural programs, this is going to be win-win for our students, the University, and the College,” Kinlaw said. “I think it’s going to be very successful. We’ve used some of our quarter-cent sales tax revenue to invest in this and are really happy with it.”
Alston said through the 2+2 program, students can take their classes on the NC A&T campus, “or they can sit right here in Rockingham County and don’t have to interrupt their lives” and take online courses.
“Students can take advantage of a great university to transfer to that is close by, so they’re not far from home,” Kinlaw said. “There are lots of jobs in this area.”
Ayers said RCC can offer students agribusiness education no matter where their interests lie.
“We look at basic agricultural enterprises and operations, and the business components that are involved in them,” he said.
“We have classes in animal science, plant science, pest control, soil science, marketing, introduction to business, accounting, ag chemicals, farm business, ag law, and ethics,” Ayers continued. “And then there’s a work-based learning component, to provide a real-world experience for these younger students coming into the world of work. A touch of reality is something a lot of these young students need.”
Ayers noted that the average age of farmers in the United States is approaching 60.
“A lot of these shoes will have to be filled. Many may not want to retire, but would like to have someone come in and fill part of their footsteps,” he said.