Farmer with tablet in soybean field

Edgecombe Community College’s new program in Agribusiness Technology will begin in the fall semester, which starts Aug. 20.

The local agriculture community will soon be strengthened by a new degree program in Agribusiness Technology at Edgecombe Community College.

“Edgecombe is a highly rural, agriculture-based county, and we have seen growing interest from the community in agriculture-related education and training,” said Johnica Ellis-Kiser, chair of Business Administration. The Agribusiness Technology program falls under oversight of Business Administration.

Estimates from Edgecombe County’s extension office note more than 3,500 jobs in agribusiness, not including seasonal workers.

“We also have strong FFA chapters in Edgecombe, and these students are interested in pursuing degrees in agriculture,” said Ellis-Kiser, who has a background in farming. FFA is an organization for students interested in agriculture.

The Agribusiness Technology program, which begins this fall, will provide 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.

In addition, certificate programs in agribusiness and animal science are available for Edgecombe high school students. These 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.

For students who wish to pursue four-year degrees in agriculture, College officials are working with several area universities to create transfer partnerships so that ECC students can complete the Agribusiness Technology degree and transfer to an agriculture program as a junior at a four-year university.

The 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.

Ag-related businesses in Edgecombe County include Green Leaf Nursery, one of the nation’s largest wholesale nursery growers, as well as a turf grass company, fertilizer and chemical dealers, farming operations and swine and poultry operations.

“All of these businesses need employees who understand agribusiness,” Ellis-Kiser said. “We are working with several of these companies to create work-based learning opportunities for our students, and we will be planning field trips to expose our students to the wide variety of ag-related industries in our area.”

To learn more about the new Agribusiness Technology program at ECC, contact Ellis-Kiser at ellisj@edgecombe.edu.