The university that began as “Mass Aggie” recently created a new Bachelor of Sciences major in Sustainable Food and Farming. Originally an option within the former Plant and Soil Sciences major, Sustainable Food and Farming grew from just five students in 2003 to almost 100 today. This rapid growth in student interest provided impetus for the elevation of the program to a full-fledged major in 2013.
At the same time that Sustainable Food and Farming was attracting more students, the UMass College of Natural Sciences announced plans to re-vitalize the applied agriculture programs by moving faculty and programs from the departments of Plant and Soil Sciences, Plant Pathology, Entomology, and Animal Sciences into a new “super-department” – the Stockbridge School of Agriculture. Building on its nearly century old tradition, the newly configured Stockbridge School will help re-energize agricultural teaching, research and outreach programs at UMass.
Under the leadership of Dean Steve Goodwin, the College of Natural Sciences has made several other new investments in agricultural programs including the UMass Center for Agriculture (which administers the agricultural research and extension functions of the college). Progress is also being made on a new Undergraduate Agricultural Learning Center, which will offer hands-on education to students at a location within walking distance of the heart of campus.
Levi Stockbridge was well-known for a commitment to both science-based and practical education. Toward this end, the Stockbridge School of Agriculture encourages all of the 300 students currently in either the Associates of Sciences or Bachelor of Sciences degree programs to gain practical experience in the field. Students in the B.S. program may earn up to 18 credits toward their major by working on farms, food businesses, or policy an advocacy non-profit organizations. A web-based service called Career-Net is maintained to help students identify appropriate jobs or internships. In addition, other listings of internships are provided for students.
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Stockbridge offers students a practical education built upon a solid foundation of biological, ecological, and social sciences. Upon graduation “Stockies” are well-prepared to explore creative options and good work.
Its surely a good time to be an “Aggie.”