Mar. 9—TIFTON — Graduates of the School of Agriculture and Natural Resources at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College are sought out by employers because of their superb skillset developed in their program of study.
Brittany Braddy, a junior agricultural education major at ABAC from Vidalia, said she believes that even though experiences in the classroom look different because of COVID-19 protocols, the quality of education she is receiving continues to be first-rate.
“The SANR is known for the hands-on experiences ABAC provides in and out of the classroom, and our professors have gone above and beyond to provide this same experience no matter what,” Braddy said. “This includes providing virtual opportunities to engage with guest speakers for classes, adapting labs to be smaller and socially distanced, and promoting extracurricular opportunities to students that are COVID friendly.”
Mark Kistler, dean of the SANR, said the 2020 fall term and current 2021 spring semester registered a 14 percent increase from the 2019-20 enrollment. Currently, SANR students represent 34.5 percent of ABAC’s enrollment with a record 1,360 enrolled in the SANR during the fall term when ABAC’s total student population numbered 3,990 students.
“Believe it or not, it might have something to do with the pandemic,” ABAC President David Bridges said. “Like many people in America today, some of our students are choosing careers that take them away from big cities. Because of the coronavirus and its effect on highly populated areas, that could be what we are seeing.
“Agriculture is Georgia’s largest industry, and jobs are available in many different sectors in the overall ag industry. Our mission is to prepare these students for life, and for some students, that life is in a place where they don’t have to fight traffic every day.”
The SANR offers six bachelor of science degree programs, including agribusiness, agricultural communication, agricultural education, agriculture, environmental horticulture, and natural resource management, giving students a variety of opportunities to find their niche.
“I believe the B.S. in Agricultural Communication is on the verge of increasing exponentially due to the recent revision to the curriculum that includes new courses that make the curriculum stand out as a true agricultural communication degree,” Kistler said.
Another growing pathway is the Agricultural Technology and Systems Management track in the B.S. degree in Agriculture.
The agriculture industry relies heavily on data and technology that places these graduates in high demand.
Christopher Bolles, an agriculture major from Macon in the ATSM track, said he spends just as much time applying what he learns in lectures as he does in labs.
“I learned how to use GPS guidance in tractors, and because of this, I was able to understand the terminology and importance of technology in agriculture,” Bolles said.
Kistler said graduates from these degree programs are sought after because of their hands-on, experiential learning opportunities in and out of the classroom.
Students are continuing to receive the same level of hands-on experiences through the adversity faced due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Everyone has complied with wearing masks indoors,” Kistler said. “I believe everyone understands the severity of our situation and is doing all they can to reduce the spread of the virus and make it to the end of the semester.”
For more information on ABAC’s School of Agriculture and Natural Resources, interested persons can contact Kistler at [email protected].