CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Nov. 15, 2013 – Southeast Missouri State University is one of five partnering universities in Missouri that will share in the delivery of agricultural coursework in an effort to produce high-quality agribusiness graduates across the state.
Southeast has joined forces with Truman State University, Missouri State University, University of Central Missouri and Northwest Missouri State University to allow undergraduate students to take agriculture courses not offered at their home institution. Southeast’s Department of Agriculture is participating in the program as a result of a three-year $74,872 sub-award from Missouri State University under a $570,000 project grant awarded by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
“Students across Missouri will share in the expertise of five universities, allowing every student to participate in courses that are taught by that institution with the best experience,” said Dr. Mike Aide, chair of Southeast’s Department of Agriculture. “For example, students at Truman may take irrigation management from Southeast, whereas Southeast students may take dairy science from Missouri State University.”
Aide says students will benefit through the delivery of online agricultural courses, the development of mini-courses for extension and continuing education, and the assessment of curriculum with input from agribusinesses.
Aide says the collaboration is vital for sustaining agribusiness. Projections indicate that by 2015, there will be 54,400 agriculture job openings nationwide but only 29,300 agriculture graduates to fill those positions. He says the Missouri agriculture economy is 19 percent of Missouri’s gross domestic product and employs 20 percent of the labor force.
The grant project is titled “Food security through linking resources to enhance undergraduate education: Strategic partnerships among five universities in Missouri” (FSLRUE). The FSLRUE project is geared toward capacity enhancement and will involve linking resources between the five partnering regional public universities. The goal of the partnership, Aide says, is to further guarantee an agriculture curriculum with oversight by agribusiness and to produce graduates having skills in demand by agribusinesses.
Ultimately, the agribusiness industry will have access to a dynamically-qualified workforce as a result of students’ exposure to a wider range of course materials and subject matter experiences, Aide says.
Faculty at each university also will benefit from opportunities to share expertise with peers at other Missouri universities, he said.