Ribbon Cutting Planned for 4-Year Ag. Program in Sikeston

From left are Matt Drake and Jason Landers, co-chairs of the event committee for the ribbon cutting for the 4-year ag. program in Sikeston, and Dan Jennings, supporter of the Southeast ag. program.

A ribbon cutting for the new four-year agriculture program at Southeast Missouri State University-Sikeston, is planned for Oct. 14. From left are Matt Drake and Jason Landers, co-chairs of the event committee, and Dan Jennings, supporter of the Southeast agriculture program. 

 

SIKESTON, Mo.,

Oct. 11, 2010 – Southeast Missouri State University-Sikeston will celebrate its new four-year agriculture program with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Oct. 14.

The “New Beginnings in Agriculture” program is scheduled for 5 to 7 p.m. at Southeast’s Sikeston Campus at 2401 N. Main. The event, which will feature a fish fry, is free. Sikeston area alumni and friends are invited.

State Rep. Ellen Brandom will be on hand to lead the ribbon cutting. Dr. Michael Aide, chair of the Southeast Department of Agriculture, will speak briefly about the program.

Southeast’s regional campuses in Sikeston, Malden and Kennett, Mo., are offering a four-year agribusiness degree program specializing in crop production this year. Classes required for the degree are offered at each of the regional campuses. Students may start and finish the agribusiness degree at Southeast’s campuses in Sikeston, Malden or Kennett, Mo.

“The classes are taught face-to-face, as well as, through instructional television and online,” Aide said.

All of the laboratories are taught face-to-face. Classes are primarily taught by Southeast faculty; however, leading Bootheel agribusiness leaders are teaching some of the specialized agribusiness courses such as ag-finance and ag-sales. Additionally, the Department of Agriculture at Southeast recently awarded nine David M. Barton Agribusiness Scholarships to incoming freshmen pursuing agribusiness at the regional campuses in Sikeston, Kennett and Malden. The goal is to provide affordability to our students, Aide said.

He says students in the program could pursue a variety of professional fields upon graduation, including agricultural sales, farm management, farm production, and grain buying. The goal of the agribusiness program is to prepare graduates who will be able to manage an agribusiness without needing to be re-trained on the job.

“This is precisely why the department wants leading agribusiness leaders complementing the faculty,” Aide said.

Agribusinesses also are supporting valuable internships to provide further work experiences to students. 

The faculty is pleased with this new addition to the curriculum, Aide said.  Many students in southeast Missouri, in the past, have gone to out-of-state institutions that also offer this type of program, however, Missouri citizens should have the opportunity to learn in Missouri so that they are inclined to stay in this region and contribute to the local economy, he said.

According to project Chair Matt Drake, “The affordability, location, and flexibility should help reach out to students who otherwise didn’t think getting a four-year degree would be feasible or be worth the sacrifice of being off the operation for four years.”

“The placement of the crop oriented program at Kennett, Malden and Sikeston is critical to the Department of Agriculture.  The Missouri Bootheel is poised to become the most productive agriculture region in the world, and Southeast expects to be a big part of that,” Aide said.

“This program will produce a skilled and educated workforce that is ready to contribute,” said Drake. “These graduates will have skills that are tailored for this specific region, that are ready made for going to work in this agriculture community.”

Community involvement and support has been critical to the establishment of the new program.

“Farming is directly tied to the land, and this program mirrors that aspect by taking the education opportunity to the local community centers,” said Drake. “The community has been helping the University get the word out.  This opportunity benefits both the potential students and the agricultural community. It is a great opportunity for students and farming professionals to meet and interact. These are people who may be doing business together later.”