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HU to launch agriculture program

August 5th, 2014

News Coverage:

HU to launch agriculture program

Posted: Tuesday, August 5, 2014 10:39 am | Updated: 5:21 pm, Tue Aug 5, 2014.

BY MEGAN GREVE mgreve@h-ponline.com

Huntington University officials have announced the college will be creating an agriculture program.

The Institute for Agriculture Studies will initially focus on agribusiness, HU President Sherilyn Emberton said.

“We’re looking to provide a program to the students in our region where they could come, get a basic understanding of the important components of agriculture but also maybe specialize with business principles that would allow them to apply what they know about ag in a business setting,” she said. “We felt like that would be an area where we could complement our region.”

Emberton said a task force met with local high schools, constituents and businesses over the past six to eight months.

“As we met with people we could not find too many parts of industry that didn’t have some component with agriculture,” she said. “As we began to look at that we realized no matter what field of industry or business that our students went into there would be a market within that business for someone who would interact with the agriculture community.”

The agribusiness program also assists those who already have connections to agriculture and want to continue, she said. Furthermore, The Institute for Agriculture Studies can use other strengths the university already has — such as innovation, entrepreneurship, missions and media and communications — to help programs grow.

“We have seen how Huntington University students understand marketing agriculture when they developed the winning program in our ‘Promoting the Good Works of Indiana Agriculture’ competition,” Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann said in a press release from HU. “This new program will expand their studies to other important dimensions of agriculture.”

According to a press release from HU, the agribusiness program will also be the state’s first faith-based agriculture program. Emberton said areas where faith will play a part include discussing how to maximize the resources available on the planet and using agriculture as a way to make the world a better place.

Emberton said the university hopes to enroll its first class in the fall of 2015.

RD Schrader, a member of the Agriculture Task Force, said The Institute for Agriculture Studies is an opportunity for Huntington University to fill a “niche” within the region.

“The options (for ag education) really are limited, especially as you look at agriculture programs provided by faith-based institutions,” Schrader said. “I think it is a tremendous opportunity for Huntington University to capitalize in an area where I think there will be a lot of demand.”

In addition, the university hopes to collaborate with Purdue to share everything from research to faculty and “work together to build whole ag awareness here in the state of Indiana,” Emberton said.

Huntington University will use the first year as a “year of awareness,” she said, adding the school hopes to hire a director who will speak with agribusinesses, farmers and high schools that offer agriculture education to get word out about the program.

The school will also be working to raise funds to match a $100,000 pledge given by an anonymous donor, Emberton said. In a few weeks HU has raised about $22,500, she added, saying they hope to have the whole matching part raised by September.

“We’re just kind of excited and feel like everyone we talk to is very, very excited about us having that opportunity for them,” she said.

Fundraising and curriculum development continue for The Institute for Agriculture Studies, according to the press release. More information is available through the university’s Office of University Advancement at 260-359-4089.

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