BAINBRIDGE – In an effort to reach more potential leaders in the agricultural industry, the University of Georgia Tifton Campus and Bainbridge State College signed three Memorandums of Understanding Thursday that will allow students who graduate from BSC to automatically gain acceptance into a bachelor’s degree program in agriculture at the UGA campus in Tifton.
In the 11 counties served by BSC, agriculture had a farmgate value of more than $1.2 billion annually, representing 9.4 percent of Georgia’s total value. Coupled with associated businesses and industries such as peanut processing plants or fertilizer and seed companies, the economic impact of agriculture is huge.
“This is an exciting partnership between Bainbridge State College and the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences in serving the agricultural industries in southwest Georgia,” said Joe West, assistant dean for the UGA Tifton Campus.
Despite knowing that agriculture plays a big role in the region’s economy, Bainbridge State officials admitted they had historically done very little to educate future leaders for careers in agriculture.
“We have never offered an agricultural course in the 40-year history of the college,” said BSC President Richard Carvajal. “We knew that didn’t make sense given the fact that our mission is to serve our region, a region that is dominated economically by agriculture, so we are very excited about this addition.”
Scott Angle, dean and director of the UGA CAES said Thursday that agriculture is the fastest-growing industry in the state and added that Georgia has the opportunity to position itself on a global scale.
“Georgia is ideally suited to become the bread basket, not just for the United States, but for our world,” Angle said. “We feel like today, in essence, we are in the middle of that journey today to making this the bread basket of the world. We have the resources, the workforce and the good regulatory environment to make that happen. But we’re going to need a lot more people. We have no more soil, no more land and we’re going to have less water. What we need is more technology and partnerships like this one will get us there.”
A UGA degree closer to home
Bainbridge students who wish to graduate from UGA with a degree in agriculture will be able to complete their first two years of college much closer to home. Also, students in and near Bainbridge will benefit from the most affordable bachelor’s degree in agriculture in all of Georgia.
Students wishing to follow the degree path opened by the new partnership may begin with their coursework this fall. UGA academic advisers began training Bainbridge State faculty and student advisers Thursday afternoon.
“The agreement is huge,” Carvajal added. “It ensures that students from our region who want to work in such an important field have the opportunity to complete the training they need.”
In the heart of ag
Angle added that the UGA Tifton Campus is perfectly positioned to make the agreement a success. “Tifton is in the heart of the state’s agricultural area,” he said. “Their educators are world-class scientists who will provide great benefit to the students in this program.”
Bainbridge State College is taking additional steps to further its instruction in agriculture. The college is in the process of adding a continuing education series for farm employees, and is planning to add one-year certificates and two-year associate programs in agriculture. In addition, when the college begins its baccalaureate program in management in 2014, it will ultimately have a concentration in agribusiness.
“This is a big day for the University of Georgia and Bainbridge State College, and it’s a day that I think we’ll look back on to show when a great program started,” West said. “Dr. Carvajal and his staff have been great to work with and everyone at the UGA Tifton Campus is excited about the possibilities we’ll see from this. This program goes to the heart of our mission of serving our region and training our future agricultural leaders.”
For more information on UGA programs in Tifton, go to students.caes.uga.edu/tifton.