By Scott Weybright, College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences
EVERETT, Wash. – Western Washington residents now have the option to earn a Washington State University degree in organic agriculture in their own back yard.
Starting spring semester 2018, WSU will offer an organic agriculture major at the WSU Everett campus.
“There are a lot of people who have families, jobs or other factors that keep them from moving across the state to eastern Washington,” said John Reganold, WSU Regents Professor of Soil Science and Agroecology. “This allows them to get their degree without moving and to learn from our world-class teachers and researchers.”
Courses will be taught in-person or via videoconference by WSU faculty from the Mount Vernon Northwestern Washington Research and Extension Center, WSU Pullman, and other sites statewide.
“Washington, the number two producer of organic food in the United States, has the right climate, great farmland and farmers who love growing delicious, nutritious crops,” Reganold said.
Community college coordination
What’s more, students can start the degree program at Everett Community College. WSU recently signed an agreement with the community college that allows students to study there for two years and then transition to the WSU organic ag program to earn a bachelor’s degree through the College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resources.
WSU is working on similar agreements with other community colleges in the state, providing students a smooth transition into the WSU Everett program. All these efforts add up to greater access for students and more skilled graduates for Washington agriculture.
“This program expands the potential to provide trained graduates to support and expand the vibrant organic agriculture industry in western Washington,” said Desmond Layne, director of WSU’s Agricultural and Food Systems and Integrated Plant Sciences degree programs. “The possibility of more linkages with industry for student education, research and outreach is all excellent.”
More research, outreach
For farmers on the west side of Washington, the degree program spells more research and outreach as well. WSU received funding from the Washington state Legislature to enable the expanded organic ag major and to ensure the robustness of agricultural teaching, research and extension in Western Washington.
“In addition to the degree program offering, the Legislature’s investment will result in more research and outreach to support farmers in Western Washington,” said Chad Kruger, director of the Mount Vernon Research and Extension Center. “There is a double benefit for Western Washington agriculture: access to more employees with a WSU education and more research to help solve the ongoing problems facing westside agriculture.”
To learn more about the WSU Organic Agriculture Systems major, visit: http://cahnrs.wsu.edu/about/org-ag/.
- Chad Kruger, director Mount Vernon Northwestern Washington Research and Extension Center, 360-416-5222, firstname.lastname@example.org