Lethbridge College is showing how it is ready to meet the changing needs of the agriculture industry by launching its bachelor of agriculture science program.
The degree program, which is unique to Lethbridge College, begins in September 2021 and offers opportunities for career development, a path to further education and hands-on research opportunities, while focusing on the science of agriculture.
Lethbridge College’s bachelor of agriculture science is a flexible program that ladders out of the current agriculture sciences diploma program. The program is the only of its kind in southern Alberta and is comparable to bachelor of science degree programs offered at the University of Alberta and University of Saskatchewan. The new bachelor of agriculture science program is recognized by the Alberta Institute of Agrologists, meaning students will earn a professional agrologist designation following graduation. The program also prepares students to pursue further MSc and PhD training.
“When developing new programs, the needs of industry are at the forefront and the bachelor of agriculture science will support the entire agriculture sector,” says Dr. Paula Burns, Lethbridge College President and CEO. “By focusing on the science of agriculture, this program supports sustainable, innovative and responsible agriculture and appeals to students from a wide variety of backgrounds who want to make a difference in feeding the world.”
Students studying Agriculture Science at Lethbridge College have flexibility when it comes to their educational path. Students in the two-year diploma program have a common first-year curriculum, before choosing to major in agriculture business, agronomy or animal science in the second year. Students may then choose to earn an additional diploma with just one extra year of study, or they may choose to pursue a bachelor of agriculture science degree with two more years of study.
In addition to theory and classroom-based learning opportunities, agriculture science students in both the diploma and degree programs have many applied learning opportunities as well, including working with the college-managed Alberta Irrigation Technology Centre and research collaborations with Farming Smarter.
Dr. Samantha Lenci, Lethbridge College provost and vice president, adds that this new degree option “supports the current and future direction of programming of the college that encompasses trades to degrees.”
“This new degree will link our academic program with our expanded agriculture research on special crops and irrigation that are specific to southern Alberta, creating an excellent learning opportunity for students,” adds Dr. Terry Kowalchuk, dean of the Centre for Technology, Environment and Design. “We are also excited about the strong focus on business and communication skills, as well as the connection students will make with our community and industry partners as they work to complete the degree. We can’t wait to welcome students to this new program this fall.”
Students pursuing the bachelor of agriculture science program will also have opportunities to be involved in hands-on applied research through the Centre for Applied Research, Innovation and Entrepreneurship and the Integrated Agriculture Technology Centre. With leading researchers in irrigation, agricultural engineering technology and aquaponics, Lethbridge College students will be able to work closely with industry on real-world issues.
“Industry is asking for a new graduate,” says Byrne Cook, chair of the School of Agriculture. “There is a demand for fundamentals in plant and soil science combined with a strong understanding of data-driven agriculture. Every year there is new smart agriculture technology and opportunity.”
Cook adds: “Our students will have the scientific background to not only manage and adapt these geospatial tools and sensors to specific production settings, they will also determine return on investment. Using the latest interpretive tools graduates will prescribe solutions to soil, moisture, pest, fertility, topography and crop rotation variability. This combination of knowledge in agronomy and data analysis will create a graduate unique to Western Canada.”
Lethbridge College has offered agriculture education since 1965. Previous graduates of the college’s agriculture sciences programs are eligible to enrol in the bachelor of agriculture science program for fall 2021. To learn more, visit lethbridgecollege.ca/AgScienceDegree.