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Sept. 28, 2021 LA GRANDE, Ore. – A year from now, the first cohort of Agriculture Entrepreneurship students will begin their studies at Eastern Oregon University.
Reflecting a major change in the national and international agricultural markets and the trade of agricultural products, this unique undergraduate degree program will equip the next generation of food producers to find success across this essential industry.
“Entrepreneurship refers to the ability to problem solve to prosper, manage and organize a new or existing business to earn profits,” Dean of the College of Business Ed Henninger said. “Agricultural entrepreneurship or agripreneurship refers to applying those same skills but to the unique production, marketing, and distribution needs of different agricultural products and services. Agricultural entrepreneurs bring unique insights and innovative thinking into growing a common vision for investment in their enterprise.”
Agriculture is one of the largest employers in the country, and is integral to rural economic development in the many rural communities EOU serves. Agricultural entrepreneurship promises to improve the quality of life for families and individuals.
Visiting Assistant Professor of Agriculture Entrepreneurship Chad Mueller explains how, “ this degree provides graduates with the tools to reinvigorate and sustain the small towns they hold dear.”
Mueller said the new program fills gaps left by more traditional academia, where agricultural science and agribusiness are typically separate degrees.
“The reality is that in ag you need to have both the business know-how, and fundamental science background,” he said. “It’s unique that we’re balancing both science and business in this curriculum, and we anticipate developing much more balanced professionals.”
The program includes courses on marketing, finance and human resources, as well as courses in biology, chemistry and intensive agriculture management. Leadership and experiential learning support and flow through both areas, Mueller said.
“They will put everything they learned into play,” he said. “We expect active participation from these students as they build communication, problem-solving, planning, and decision-making skills. They’ll be engaging with peers and industry professionals at the nexus of business, science and leadership.”
Through field-based courses and projects, students collaborate with peers and agriculture professionals to identify a problem, propose solutions, and work toward enacting them. They’ll also engage with industry experts, agricultural support organizations, and government agencies.
Designed for flexibility, coursework can be completed on-campus or remotely. Particularly for students from agricultural areas or backgrounds, their location or existing responsibilities can be a barrier to obtaining their degree. The program’s hybrid model takes this into account, and allows students to work with faculty to tailor their learning so they can complete their academic requirements regardless of their location.
It’s also an ideal complement to many community college agriculture programs, providing transfer students with a seamless pathway to receiving our bachelor’s degree.
“This degree creates a way for the next generation to recognize how to build a livelihood as well as a lifestyle,” Mueller said. “A livelihood is what allows people to retire, allows the next generation to go to college, and it’s how agriculture becomes a social and economic driver for communities.”
Agriculture Entrepreneurship opens for enrollment in Fall 2022. Learn more at eou.edu/agrient.
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