Edgecombe Community College and N.C. A&T State University have signed an agreement that will enable ECC Agribusiness Technology graduates to transfer into N.C. A&T’s bachelor’s degree program in agriculture education.
“We designed the agreement so that our students can transfer seamlessly to their four-year program,” said Johnica Ellis-Kiser, program chair of business administration at ECC.
With the agreement in place, N.C. A&T will accept 64 credit hours earned through ECC’s Agribusiness Technology curriculum.
To transfer, students must maintain a C average or better and complete the associate degree program at ECC. Once they transfer, students can select one of two tracks in the agriculture education program at N.C. A&T.
“One track is for those who are interested in teaching, and the other is for those who are interested in working on a farm or at a seed company or nursery,” Ellis-Kiser said. Agribusiness Technology is ECC’s newest degree program. “We looked at the community and its needs. “Agriculture is the No. 1 business in Edgecombe County. We wanted to be able to better serve the community.”
The 2017 Census of Agriculture indicates that Edgecombe County has 249 farms. Most of the farms in the county are less than 500 acres, and almost 90 percent are family-run operations. Estimates from Edgecombe County’s extension office note more than 3,500 jobs in agribusiness, not including seasonal workers.
The college’s Agribusiness Technology program, which began in the fall of 2020, provides students with a strong background in sustainable farming, farm management, crop production, farm maintenance, animal science and horticultural science.
ECC offers a five-semester degree program, a three-semester diploma program and certificates in agriculture, animal science and horticulture that can be earned in two semesters.
The class that began last fall includes eight college students and several high school students who took classes tuition-free through Career and College Promise. Credentials at the high school level can be applied toward the college’s program in Agribusiness Technology.
Students will be able to pursue traditional careers in farm operations as well as leading edge professions in agriculture technology.
“We wanted to fill in an educational gap and equip students with the skills they need to be leaders in agriculture,” Ellis-Kiser said. “It’s been difficult starting a new program in the middle of a pandemic, but it’s working. We are very pleased with the program so far.”
She added that several of her students already have shown an interest in taking advantage of the agreement with N.C. A&T and pursuing a bachelor’s degree.
“The agreement provides more opportunities for our students,” she said.
The Agribusiness Technology program also will stimulate and support economic growth in the Edgecombe area. According to area agriculture experts, the local demand for produce and vegetable truck farms continues to grow.
To learn more about Agribusiness Technology at ECC, contact Ellis-Kiser at email@example.com.