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136 Agricultural Hall
Oklahoma State University
Stillwater, OK 74078
Phone: 405.744.5395
Fax: 405.744.5339
casnr@okstate.edu

 
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OSU partners with two-year colleges to offer Agricultural Leadership Degree Completion Program

STILLWATER, Okla. – Sometimes life gets in the way of finishing through on certain goals and aspirations. This is true, too, for academic achievements.

STILLWATER, Okla. – Sometimes life gets in the way of finishing through on certain goals and aspirations. This is true, too, for academic achievements.

A bachelor’s degree completion program in Agricultural Leadership offered through Oklahoma State University’s College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources is hoping to help remedy this and address some of the more pressing upcoming issues for the workforce in our state. The Agricultural Leadership Degree Completion Program is a partnership between OSU and three Oklahoma two-year colleges; Connors State College, Warner; Murray State College, Tishomingo; and Northeastern Oklahoma A&M, Miami.

“By 2020, 59 percent of jobs in Oklahoma will require a career certificate or college degree, however, only 30 percent of Oklahoma adults have an associate degree or higher,” said Penny Weeks, project director and professor in OSU’s Department of Agricultural Education, Communications and Leadership. “The resulting skills gap of 29 percent, as reported by Complete College America, requires college and universities to address the problem of degree completion.”

While the need to fill the skills gap is addressed through this program, there also is a certain level of importance put on developing the agricultural workforce.

“The Oklahoma Department of Commerce reports that one of the top five priority Oklahoma industry ecosystems is agriculture and biosciences,” Weeks said. “Not only is degree completion in the state of Oklahoma of increasing importance, degree completion in the food and agricultural sciences is of vital importance.”

The project is designed to improve four-year degree completion rates for place-bound students wanting a B.S. in agricultural leadership from OSU. There will be a mix of online, satellite, short and blended courses, offered to students enrolled in the program.

“Place-bound could be any number of things. ‘I have a fulltime job and I don’t want to lose it, but I want to finish my degree. I’m married with kids and can’t move to Stillwater,’” said Bill Weeks, primary advisor for the students in the program and professor in AECL. “We think we will have some part-time students, some full-time students, others who are taking courses concurrently, so we’re trying to accommodate a variety of situations.”

Students must complete 60 hours of coursework through their two-year school, be on track to earn their associates degree and complete 60 hours of coursework through OSU.

“The Agricultural Leadership program already offers many of its required courses in an online or short course format and is positioned to move to a program serving students throughout the region in collaboration with two-year colleges,” said Cynda Clary, CASNR associate dean. “This new and innovative degree completion program will provide a valuable service in the food and agricultural sciences to citizens across the state of Oklahoma and beyond.”

A $270,000 U.S. Department of Agriculture Higher Education Challenge Grant funds the program, which embodies the land-grant mission of improving the lives of people in Oklahoma, the nation and the world through integrated, high-quality teaching, research and Extension. The grant was awarded in 2016 and will continue through 2019.

Students interested in enrolling in the Agricultural Leadership Degree Completion Program can contact Bill Weeks by phone at 405-744-5129 or by email at bill.weeks@okstate.edu.

The Oklahoma State University College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources believes in the value of hands-on education and the importance of having a well-rounded student experience. Our award-winning faculty members are dedicated to developing students and are passionate about adding value to the total educational experience. With 16 majors and 59 study options, plus more than 60 student organizations, the college is committed to expanding minds and inspiring purpose. Learn more at casnr.okstate.edu

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REPORTER/MEDIA CONTACT:
Sean Hubbard
Communications Specialist
Agricultural Communications Services
157 Agriculture North
Oklahoma State University
Stillwater, OK 74078
Phone: 405-744-4490
Fax: 405-744-5739
Email: sean.hubbard@okstate.edu