Ag Department Sees Steady Rise

Imogené Wofford, Entertainment Editor

Texas A&M University-Commerce’s School of Agriculture has had a 20 percent increase in student enrollment, graduate students making up most of the new enrollees with a small amount of undergraduates.

The increase in graduate enrollment is contributed to the recruitment program that offers free tuition for degrees related to agriculture. Many of the graduate students are high school agricultural teachers who come to the campus for either one or two nights a week or take online classes for their Master’s Degree in agricultural education.

“A&M-Commerce has a rich history with teachers,” Dr. Randy Harp, director of College of Agriculture, said. “There is tremendous potential for degrees in agricultural education. There are more agricultural teaching positions than teachers can fill, and the positions are specifically for teaching grades 9-12.”

The school of agriculture has 402 undergraduate students and 55 graduate students.

“The farms serve as hands-on labs for the students. We have a 1600 acre farm for lab and research,” Roger Skipper, farm manager, said.

“In the future we will have workshops for TAMUC alumni,” Harp said.

By breaking away from the Department of Science and Engineering and starting as a separate department, the School of Agriculture began.

“The programs for experimental learning serve the needs of the students, and can provide a will to continue growth,” Harp said.

There are many clubs and organizations that provide activities for student engagement.

“It is critical for students to come and get involved,” Harp said.

The clubs and organizations include Women in Agriculture, Latinos in Agriculture, Ag for Life, an organization that displays diversity in agriculture, Horse Judging, and Ag Ambassadors.

The School of Agriculture received a 164-acre research farm that’s located in Greenville and 95 new cattle.

“We have a cooperative, hands-on agronomy lab with CCRI [Cereal Crops Research Incorporated] in Fairlie, TX. The students get their own 10-acre plot, and they get on the tractor, do the harvesting, etc,” Harp said.

15-20 percent of all jobs in the United States are agriculture related.

The School of Agriculture has a Facebook page for the livestock farm, “Texas A&M University-Commerce Livestock Farm” and one for the blueberry farm, “Texas A&M University-Commerce Twin Oaks Blueberry Farm.”