Fall marks back to school season, whether it be starting elementary school or college. Here are 10 universities with great agricultural programs.
1. Delaware Valley University
Dean: Chris Tipping
15 Agricultural Majors
Delaware Valley University (DelVal) is located in Central Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and offers a full-line ag program. Every major requires practical experience. In fact, the motto of the school comes from the words of its founder Joseph Krauskopf: “We take ‘science with practice’ seriously.” More than 1,000 acres of university-owned land in Bucks and Montgomery counties serve as living laboratories for students.
Known for animal science, the school offers a bachelor’s degree and associate program in equine studies. The school is big in plant sciences and landscape architecture.
The new organic farming certificate program runs in partnership with Rodale. It is quite popular with people changing career paths and with military veterans who use their benefits to cover the 36 credit hours required.
Founded in 1896, the school has grown from a two-year ag school to offer programs in the sciences and liberal arts. Two-thirds of students live on campus. All students get hands-on experience. In fact, some food served in the dining halls is campus-grown. Other food is given to local food pantries.
Another popular major is horticultural therapy. Students work at local assisted-living homes, with autistic children, or at Veterans Affairs hospitals in gardening programs.
In 2016, DelVal started its Experience360 program, which encourages students to think about their careers, begin networking, build a resume and do community service or study abroad. Upon completing an undergrad degree, one can stay and earn a master’s degree in six areas or a doctorate in education. The graduate school programs — such as business and policy studies — may be combined with ag to complete a MBA program in areas like ag business or supply chain management.
The University’s new president Maria Gallo is a plant scientist who came to Bucks County from the University of Hawaii’s College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources . Interim Dean Chris Tipping is an entomologist with a doctorate from Florida.
If there is a common background shared by DelVal students, it is their desire to improve the world and live on a campus where they study in a small community and know professors one-on-one.
Photos courtesy of Deleware Valley University
2. Cornell University
Faculty, students and staff of Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) are leading science and education toward a resilient future through our teaching, research and extension programs in food and energy systems, the life sciences, the environmental sciences and the social sciences. From the university’s top-ranked accredited undergraduate business program to innovative research in communication, development sociology, landscape architecture, the biological sciences and other fields, CALS offers a broad spectrum of programs that extend past the traditional definition of an agricultural school. And yet, with outstanding initiatives in the food, animal and plant sciences, as well as in a broad scope of biological sciences, CALS clearly illustrates the urgency and relevance of agricultural research to creating a world that can nourish and support its inhabitants. Because of this portfolio of diverse expertise and resources, CALS is regarded as the best college of its kind in the nation, if not the world.
CALS is a community dedicated to discovery, teaching and translation of knowledge with public purpose, that does the following:
- Imparts a worldclass education and instills passion for life-long learning
- Demonstrates commitment to robust and responsible scientific exploration through thoughtful and thorough evaluation
- Furthers agricultural systems to ensure food and nutrition security, human health and sustainability
- Advances knowledge in the life sciences about the unity and diversity of life
- Fosters the understanding of the economy and society for individual and community well-being
- Stewards environmental resources and sustainable energy solutions
To achieve a sustainable future for people and the planet, resilient solutions to today’s global challenges will require novel insight into the dynamics of coupled human and natural systems. Many of these solutions will be found at the intersection of the four interdependent and interacting areas of focus that inform and support CALS’ mission and shape the college’s commitment to advancing the land grant mission. From the social sciences to the life sciences, in fundamental and applied disciplines, CALS has the broad and deep expertise needed to effect real change in the world.
Photo courtesy of the Cornell University
3. The University of Maine
With the University of Maine, hands-on, real-world research begins in your freshman year. At the on-campus livestock barns, you will take part in groundbreaking equine, bovine and ovine animal science research. At the agricultural production farm, you will conduct large- and small-scale sustainable agriculture experiments at one of the world’s first organic farming research facilities. And with more than 2,000 acres of UMaine experimental forest lands abutting campus, you will be surrounded by opportunities in every direction. If that’s not enough space to roam, the Maine Agricultural and Research Stations give you the chance to work directly with your professors at more than 100 ongoing agricultural research field sites across the state.
The UMaine campus is located in a small college town not far from the Atlantic Coast, minutes from Maine’s idyllic lakes, rivers and mountains, and only three hours from Boston. With some of the lowest out-of-pocket costs in New England, and with over $15 million awarded annually in scholarships, students from every state and 41 countries have decided to make UMaine their home. The University of Maine is large enough to offer world-class research opportunities, but small enough for your academic achievements to be recognized.
Whether you study Animal and Veterinary Science, Environmental Horticulture, Forestry, Food Science and Human Nutrition, or Sustainable Agriculture, the University of Maine will equip you with the skills you need to Define Your Tomorrow. Learn more at www.UMaine.edu.
Photos courtesy of the University of Maine
4. University of Massachusetts-Amherst
The Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment (CAFE) at University of Massachusetts-Amherst integrates research and outreach education in agriculture, food systems and the environment by connecting business, policy and public interest sectors in the state, including agriculture, the horticultural “green industries,” environmental decision-makers and food system interests. Based in the College of Natural Sciences, CAFE represents 12 majors from the School of Public Health and Health Sciences, the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, the College of Engineering and the Stockbridge School of Agriculture.
CAFE has four farms in different locations, outreach facilities mostly on the food, nutrition and 4H side in the major areas of the state and a cranberry station on Cape Cod.
“We serve the Commonwealth of MA, which is very diverse,” said Jody Jellison, director of CAFE. “Part of our mandate is specifically to support the needs of the commercial farmers. Some of our support is indirect, [via] studies on things like tool development for decisionmaking, or research, which informs policy, or even some of the long-term research.”
The food science unit on campus has connections with the food industry. “Food safety is an area where we have an educational commitment and a research commitment to figure out, for example, what are the risks and how can we appropriately and economically address them,” said Jellison.
Outreach is primarily focused on the Commonwealth, but Jellison said some of the center’s research has implications that extend far beyond the borders. “We’re doing the type of research that might result in the development of a new variety or new protocols for agricultural management. Some of our research is locally focused, but would have regional or even national applications,” she said.
Cafe focuses on eight research areas:
- Massachusetts agriculture
- Commercial horticulture
- Food science
- Environmental conservation
- Youth development and 4H
Photo courtesy of UMass Amherst
5. University of New Hampshire
The College of Life Sciences & Agriculture (COLSA) is an academic unit within the University of New Hampshire in Durham. Students come to COLSA to be educated in a wide spectrum of life sciences, agricultural and natural resources. We offer two-year associate degrees, four-year undergraduate bachelor degrees and masters and doctorate degree programs.
The world and nationally renowned faculty at COLSA combine teaching with a passion for research and public service. Their work to understand the nature of biological systems, manage and conserve natural resources, improve agricultural profitability and sustainability, enhance health and nutrition, and foster economic development has earned UNH nationwide recognition as a top-tier land, sea and space grant university. This synthesis of talent and expertise creates opportunities for students to follow their intellectual interests across traditional fields of study through interdisciplinary courses and programs. And by participating in facultysupported outreach initiatives that benefit the state and the region, students find greater meaning in their studies and a way to test future goals.
The UNH Cooperative Extension brings information and education into the communities of the Granite State to help make New Hampshire’s individuals, businesses and communities more successful and its natural resources healthy and productive. For 100 years, our specialists have been tailoring contemporary, practical education to regional needs, helping create a well-informed citizenry while strengthening key economic sectors.
COLSA also houses many research centers, including the New Hampshire Agricultural Experiment Station.
6. Penn State University
Nickname: Nittany Lions
Dean: Richard Roush
17 Agricultural Majors
23 Agricultural Minors
Penn State University (PSU) holds the position as the first college in the nation to grant degrees in agriculture. But the team in Happy Valley, Pennsylvania, is not mired in the past.
Study Agricultural Biosecurity and Food Defense as part of PSU’s degree in Professional Studies in Homeland Security — the perfect major for a post-9/11 world. Or you can learn to make ice cream that is served at the Penn State Creamery. Those New Englanders who will (justifiably) point to Ben & Jerry’s as amazing ice cream should know that Ben & Jerry learned to make ice cream via a Penn State ag extension course. They earned an “A” in the course and their final exam is proudly displayed in the lobby of their corporate offices in Stowe, Vermont.
PSU has always been on the cutting edge of ag research. You don’t have to travel to central Pennsylvania to learn from Penn State’s professors or become a part of the proud PSU tradition. PSU’s world campus brings learning to your farm or doorstep.
Agriculture is a science, a business and a profession. The demand is high for animal and plant specialists, conservationists, food technologists, environmental resource managers, engineers, veterinarians, entomologists, farm and forest managers, and many others. There are domestic and international programs. Penn State has certificate, two-year, four-year, graduate and extension programs to train people in every area of ag. The turfgrass program at PSU is unparalleled — that is the reason much of the grass on area golf courses carries the Penn prefix, like Pennfine rye. There are 17 majors, 22 related minors and several associate programs offered plus popular local extension seminars on everything from farm estate planning to Marcellus shale.
The Young Farmers say that a “young farmer is any farmer willing to learn.” There is no better place for any farmer — young or old — to expand their capabilities in ag or food science than at PSU.
Photos courtesy of PennState
7. The University of Rhode Island
The Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems graduate specialization takes a systems-based, interdisciplinary approach to the biological and environmental sciences as applied to agriculture, aquaculture, fisheries, nutrition and food safety. Our diverse group of faculty, with contributors from both the natural and social sciences, uses a broad array of approaches to help achieve economically and ecologically sustainable production, management, consumption and utilization of plants and animals for the development of healthy communities.
Areas of research include animal science, aquaculture, aquatic pathology, ecological anthropology, ethnobiology, entomology, nutrition and food sciences, plant sciences, resource economics and policy, and integrated agriculture and food systems.
Photos courtesy of the University of Rhode Island
8. The UMass Stockbridge School of Agriculture
The UMass Agricultural Learning Center was created to provide a hands-on, living classroom for students to learn about farming and the horticultural, nursery and landscape industries.
Current programming provides students with skills in organic farming, draft horse operation, urban farming, native pollinator habitat conservation, social justice, agronomic crop production and animal husbandry. At the UMass Student Farm, students are committed to providing our campus community with nutritious, organically grown, local produce. We cultivate student empowerment through hands-on agricultural production and by educating our peers about the importance of creating a healthier food system. Pollinator Habitat Gardens have been designed, installed and maintained at the Agricultural Learning Center (ALC), University of Massachusetts with support from the Massachusetts State Grange.
9. McGill University
The Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences is committed to excellence in teaching, research and service to ensure that humanity’s present and future food, health and natural resource needs are met while protecting the environment.
Dedicated to improving the quality of life in Quebec’s rural communities, Sir William Christopher Macdonald founded the School of Agriculture, the School for Teachers and the School of Household Science at Macdonald College in Sainte-Annede- Bellevue in 1906. Macdonald College opened its doors to students in 1907 and its first degrees were awarded in 1911. The School for Teachers became the Faculty of Education in 1965 and moved to the downtown campus in 1970.
Currently, Macdonald Campus is home to the Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, the School of Dietetics and Human Nutrition and the Institute of Parasitology. The faculty is comprised of the Departments of Animal Science, Bioresource Engineering, Food Science and Agricultural Chemistry, Natural Resource Sciences and Plant Science. The faculty is one of the founding members of the McGill School of Environment and is also home to the Farm Management and Technology Program. The current enrollment is just short of 2,000 undergraduate and graduate students.
Photo courtesy of McGill University
10. Paul Smith’s College
Built on a long-standing Adirondack tradition, forestry education at Paul Smith’s College equips students with a foundation of technical, field-based and applied education that combines theory and practice. Bachelor’s degrees are offered in three concentrations:
- Ecological Forest Management prepares students for positions with government forestry agencies, forestry consulting firms and nongovernmental organizations.
- Forestry Operations is a fit for students interested in working for forest-products companies or running their own forestproducts firm.
- Forest Biology is ideal for students who plans to continue to graduate school and specialize in a field such as forest ecology or forest entomology.
Photos courtesy of Paul Smith’s College