More students on Trac for agriculture at NC State

Published 6:34 pm Wednesday, October 3, 2018

It has been a year since Beaufort County Community College initiated PackTrac, a pathway for agricultural students to N.C. State University. BCCC was the first community college in the state to enter into the program. As more students join the program, the reasons why they chose to start their college careers at BCCC start to vary. Two students, Johanes Van Essendelft and Memphis Slade-Credle, shared their reasons for choosing the program.

PackTrac puts the two BCCC students on course for bachelor’s degrees in any of 13 majors through the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at NC State. In Van Essendelft’s case this will be a Bachelor of Science in Agribusiness Management, while Slade-Credle will earn a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural and Environmental Technology. PackTrac clearly defines all of the classes and requirements the students will need to transfer. It also sets up advisors on both sides to help with the transition. Other degrees that students can pursue include agricultural business management, animal science, horticultural science and plant biology.

Van Essendelft graduated from Terra Ciea Christian School, where he was one of only six students in his senior class. “I wanted to stay around home and work some while in college,” he said. The smaller class sizes at BCCC were a good transition from his small high school class. Van Essendelft’s family farms 400 acres, growing peonies among other crops. The college freshman admits that he has been driving farm equipment for years, so part of his goal at the college is to complete the commercial driver’s license class to allow him to expand beyond the farm.

For Slade-Credle, the draw to BCCC was less about small class sizes and more about family connection. His father is the mayor of Belhaven, and his family currently farms 150 acres. Staying put was simpler than uprooting to leave for NC State. PackTrac is not just about farming traditions, though. Slade-Credle’s interests lie in technology and the future of farming. “I’d be happy to stay in the area,” he said, “but I plan to go where the jobs are.”

With a growing population and increased challenges from climate change, agriculture is less focused on the past than the future. The field has to combine innovation from science, technology and business to produce crops efficiently and sustainably. PackTrac lets students who want to be this next generation of innovators stay rooted a little longer in their home laboratories before heading off to one of the best universities for agriculture in the country.

For more information about the PackTrac program, contact Lisa Hill at 252-940-6223 or