Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Penn State To Launch Undergraduate Ag Stewardship & Conservation Certificate

A new undergraduate certificate program offered by Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences will give students interested in agricultural stewardship an opportunity for classroom and hands-on learning in the sustainability of agricultural soil and water resources.
The Agricultural Stewardship and Conservation Certificate Program also will help train the next generation of conservation professionals at a time when Pennsylvania's agricultural producers are under mounting pressure to adopt measures that will protect and enhance water quality in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, according to the program's developers.
The certificate program will be administered under Penn State's Environmental Resource Management academic program, noted program coordinator Robert Shannon, associate professor of agricultural and biological engineering.
Shannon said the certificate will include 11 to 14 credits, with courses in soil science, agricultural erosion and sediment control, nutrient management, and best management practice design and implementation.
He added that the program is designed to appeal to students in a variety of Penn State majors, including Environmental Resource Management, BioRenewable Systems, Animal Science, Agricultural Science and Plant Sciences, as well as nondegree-seeking students.
"A unique component of the certificate will require students to complete an internship or independent study experience working with a local or state agency or technical service provider, so that the students get real-world, hands-on training with a variety of agricultural systems," he said.
The new program also will introduce students to the state's Nutrient Management Specialist certification and will allow them to complete several modules toward the certification required by the state, Shannon said.
The certificate program is one outgrowth of a 2016 conference, called "Pennsylvania in the Balance," sponsored by Penn State's Agriculture and Environment Center.
The conference brought together representatives from Penn State, the agricultural industry, government agencies and conservation groups to seek ways to assist the state in meeting its EPA-mandated clean water goals for the Chesapeake Bay.
"Enhanced training to increase conservation planning and technical assistance capacity was among the highest priority recommendations made by conference participants," said Matthew Royer, director of the Agriculture and Environment Center.
Following the conference, input for the certificate was sought from a variety of stakeholders, including the State Conservation Commission, the state departments of Agriculture and Environmental Protection, PA Association of Conservation Districts, PA Farm Bureau, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Stroud Water Research Center, private-sector technical service providers and others, Royer said.
"This new certification program will provide critical coursework and practical experience to Penn State students interested in entering the field of agricultural conservation, making our students marketable for jobs in the public and private sector and helping to meet growing technical-assistance demands from producers," he said.
Students interested in pursuing the Agricultural Stewardship and Conservation certificate can contact Shannon at 814-865-6942 or send email to:

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