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Wyo colleges offer new avenues for degree programs

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

College students of the Cowboy State   are seeing additions to their degree options as colleges around the state begin to broaden the horizons of the agriculture curricula. The University of Wyoming (UW) plays a role in the changes occurring at its own campus, as well as the additions to Sheridan College.
New livestock degree
     UW is offering an alternative for students enrolled in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. After two years of serious discussion, an option has been given to students seeking animal science and agribusiness degrees.
    “Based on studies done by observations, there were students getting dual degrees in agribusiness and animal science. The combination in a student is very sought after in the workforce, but it was taking them longer to get their schooling done,” says Chris Bastian, associate professor in agricultural and applied economics at UW.
    The major targets of the curriculum are students of the western states who have an interest in the livestock aspect of agribusiness. The degree will offer an in-depth look into both features of the agriculture industry.
    “It comes down to the fact that this degree will be very attractive for students who are interested in both the animal science and agribusiness programs,” says Bastian.
    Starting this fall, students at UW will be given the opportunity to start taking courses in the livestock business management program.  
Growth of the program
    “We have had a number of students interested in the program. We are in the middle of freshmen orientation, and I have seen a number of students who are interested in the program as well,” says Bastian. “Through the addition of this program, we are providing a niche for those interested in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.”
    Offering a new program with multiple avenues will also be a recruitment tool for the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, as it is an option that many institutions in the area do not offer.
    “The University of Nebraska at Lincoln has a similar degree, but the one we are providing for students is a little more in-depth with agriculture economics and animal science,” says Bastian.
    In the future, an indication that the livestock business management option is viable and successful would be a 25 percent enrollment out of the 150 students who are generally enrolled in agribusiness management.
    “Our hope in offering this degree program is that we are providing a foundation for students who will be entering the meat sector. When the students leave, we hope they have the tools that will improve the industry,” says Bastian. “That sounds big and ambitious, but I have heard global predictions that the demand for food will double in the next 20 years. We have to train people who can efficiently meet the demands of the food sector.”      
Agroecology in Sheridan
    Sheridan College is giving their horticulture students an option upon receiving their associate degree in horticulture, as well. This program is called a 3+1 partnership. Three years of the student’s education is spent at Sheridan College, and the fourth is spent at UW.
    The partnership is in agroecology with an emphasis in horticulture. After an associate degree in horticulture is obtained, the students can take their third year of classes on the Sheridan College campus. UW instructors teach these classes.
    Valtcho Jeliazkoy, director of the Agriculture Research Station, and Dr. Sadanand Dhekney, Whitney endowed position in horticulture, are the two UW professors slated to teach the set of third year classes at Sheridan College.  
    “Some of the classes that are offered to the students in the program are taught as online classes,” says Keith Klement, Sheridan College director of agriculture.
    Having the professors on campus gives students more opportunity than taking third year classes. They are also given the chance to be involved in research-related internships.
Transition year
    The collaboration between the two colleges will begin this fall, as this will be the first year that students will be participating in the 3+1 partnership.
    “The program is in currently in transition. Right now we have students who will begin taking UW classes in the fall,” says Klement.
    When the fall semester begins, one student will be making their way through the classes provided by UW. Seven of the student’s peers will be completing their Associate of Science in horticulture.
    “The program has been in discussion for a while, but has been moving forward through the collaboration between Dr. Herbert and our Dean of Agriculture here at Sheridan College,” says Klement.
    Stephen Herbert is the department head of the UW Department of Plant Sciences. The dean of agriculture as Sheridan College is Ami Erickson.
Sheridan’s goals for 3+1
    “Most of our programs have anywhere from 10 to 20 students in them. We hope to have that same amount of students in this program within the next few years,” comments Klement.
    Aside from increasing numbers, Sheridan College would also like to see some of the other programs of the agriculture department take on a similar format.  
    Allie Leitza is an intern at the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to

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