The U.S. Department of Agriculture has awarded SUNY Cobleskill funding to help create a baccalaureate program in food systems and technology. The project's director, Cobleskill Assistant Professor Jason Evans, explained that the grant, which will total nearly $140,000, is available to non-land-grant schools.
The grant will help support the design and implementation of pilot classes during the 2013 spring and summer semesters, as well as marketing initiatives for the program. Some outreach programming to local farmers and agriculture businesses is also included in the project.
The grant, which begins in January 2013, lasts three years. Much of the course development is planned for the first year, while pilot courses and electives will run through 2014. The final year includes completion of administrative items and formal marketing of the program.
SUNY Cobleskill's recent merger of the Agriculture Business and Culinary Arts programs into the Department of Food and Agriculture Business Management helps with the creation of the new degree program. "The beauty of the program is that we'll be able to use a lot of existing courses and resources on campus," Evans said. "We'll be able to pool from other courses on campus."
Though existing courses will be used, the grant provides for 14 new classes, including seven lectures, five laboratories and two practicums to be created specifically for the program. These classes will be piloted through year three.
The curriculum is expected to lead to expanded career opportunities for undergraduate students, according to the grant. In addition to being designed to appeal to a wide range of incoming students, the program will be hands-on and provide strong internship possibilities. Campus improvements, such as capital investments in dairy processing equipment and a Cobleskill retail facility, will be made to benefit the program throughout the grant period.
Cobleskill's School of Agriculture and Natural Resources makes up nearly half of the college's enrollment of 2,600, and according to the grant, it is anticipated that this program will be among the largest on campus.
"I think this is a natural fit for this campus," Evans said. "It is something we can be regionally competitive in. These programs are mostly popping up out west. This [program] will also help faculty develop long-term relationships with farmers and local agricultural people."
The State University of New York College of Agriculture and Technology at Cobleskill is an accredited polytechnic college that is primarily baccalaureate and residential. The college has an enrollment of 2,600 students in 50 programs in agriculture and natural resources, liberal arts and sciences, and business. An economic engine for rural New York, SUNY Cobleskill is home to a wide array of continuing education and professional development opportunities. For more information, visit www.cobleskill.edu