Agribusiness is already sprouting results

Published 11:48 am Monday, March 21, 2016

From Beaufort County Community College

More than a year ago, Beaufort County Community College started an agribusiness program. Already off to a terrific start, the program is expected to grow by 10 percent each year.

Commenting on the successful first year, Billy Askew, the agribusiness lead instructor, said, “We have come a long way in a short time with our program.” Funding came from Golden Leaf Foundation to initiate the program, hire an instructor and begin training students for agribusiness-related jobs. Askew recently purchased computers and landscaping design programs that will complement the new curriculum approved by the N.C. Community College System. In addition, Beaufort County Community College has worked out two-plus-two-year agreements with Mt. Olive University and N.C. A&T State University. This agreement allows students to complete their two-year degree in agribusiness at BCCC, then continue straight into the four-year school, gaining credit for their community college classes.

The program partners with businesses and community organizations to give the public and students experience in agriculture.

Mandie Boahn, from Raised in a Barn Farm, said her partnership with the agribusiness program allows her to bring the public onto the farm. They are starting a Kids Camp named “Follow Me to the Farm” that will allow children ages 8-17 to work on the farm as part of the larger Kids Camp summer program at BCCC. During that camp, students will learn about healthy, natural foods, how they are produced and processed, while also learning how to cook wholesome, fresh foods. In addition, Raised in a Barn Farm will add a fresh vegetable in a basket, marketing toward people who chose to have fresh foods delivered to their business this summer.

Billy Askew said the program has partnered with the pollinator project of Pamlico-Albemarle Wildlife Conservationists to offer organic gardening classes to the public. The partnership will result in pollinator-friendly plants that the group will distribute to the public later this year.

Herb May, manager of Mitchell Tractor, and Fred Tetterton, of Roanoke Farm Supply, both stated that the agribusiness program delivers the necessary training for students seeking to work in the industry. Currently, agribusiness students have internships with Simple Natural Creamery, Cherry Grove Seed Farm and Total Agronomic Services.

The program hopes to find increased work-study or internship placements for the next group of students. Instructor Askew will also lead the new classes, including soil science online and organic gardening, which will be open to the public. Wendy Petteway, career and technical education coordinator at Beaufort County Schools, also said future Pathway agreements will allow high school students to take an agricultural science or health science career pathway while in high school and earn college credits.

The agribusiness field includes many commonly known agriculture-related jobs, along with new technology jobs. Current job openings are posted for research, technical advising, sales, technicians, extension agency, farm manager positions, inspection and licensing agents, horticulture, social services and process development in biosciences.

If you are interested in obtaining a degree in agribusiness, please contact instructor Billy Askew at 252-940-6304.