Richmond Community College signed a transfer agreement Wednesday with N.C. State University that will allow graduates of the Associate in Science degree program to transfer as juniors into NCSU’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. They then have the opportunity to complete their bachelor’s degrees online or on the NCSU campus.
Members of the local boards of education, elected officials, county managers, RCC trustees and prospective students attended the signing ceremony to learn more about the agreement. They attended a similar event a year ago.
“When we signed our Poultry Science agreement last March, Ken Esbenshade said it was just the beginning. Today, we’re here to keep that promise and make it come true,” said RCC President Dale McInnis.
Esbenshade is the Associate Dean and Director of the NCSU College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. He said today’s technology and partnerships like the one with RCC allow NCSU to bring education to students in rural areas.
“We recognize agriculture as a premier industry in the state with jobs that also include positions in marketing and retail. Our future in agriculture is great, but it has changed from 30 years ago. There are high-tech jobs out there that require a person to have a basis in agriculture science principles to be successful. RCC is helping us provide that training,” said Esbenshade.
He noted a trend is developing that makes agreements such as this the entry point into the program, and they are embracing it.
Jim Flowers, professor and head of the NCSU Department of Agriculture and Extension Education, said students will take their general education courses at RCC and then receive a broad background in agriculture at NCSU.
“Students will select two areas of study: Animal and Crop Science or Agriculture Business and Horticulture. The agriculture industry needs leaders in the field, in industry, and in government agencies. We think graduates of this program will have the skills to be successful in the agriculture and the business world,” said Flowers.
John Havlin, coordinator for distance education and a professor for the Department of Soil Science, sees a bright future for the partnership.
“You may ask about labs for students taking courses online. We have a cooperative extension service to assist and facilitate getting students to farms so they can experience things in courses that help them meet learning objectives. RCC and the university also have distance learning facilities with excellent video and audio capabilities. We feel other community colleges will see this as a model program and join us in providing the education needed to develop a good workforce in agriculture,” said Havlin.
McInnis said the partnership was blending the traditional boundaries between public education, community colleges, and universities to provide seamless transitions to students.
“For the first time, a student can receive a degree from N.C. State University without leaving the area,” said McInnis. “That’s a wonderful opportunity for interested students.”