What is the Agricultural Technology Program?
The Agricultural Technology Program provides two years of education leading to an associate of agriculture degree. In traditional baccalaureate (four-year) programs, the first two years are devoted to classes often not directly tied to a student's career goals. The Agricultural Technology Program, however, concentrates on specialized courses that focus on preparing students for their chosen career.
Agricultural technology students have the same rights and privileges as other students at Virginia Tech except they cannot participate in NCAA sports or in the Corps of Cadets.
All Agricultural Technology students are required to complete an occupational internship to provide practical experience in a working environment. The internship lasts for a minimum of 10 weeks and is usually completed during the summer between the student’s first and second year in the program. In consultation with the Agricultural Technology faculty, the student will select an internship that may involve assignments with the Virginia Tech farms or the Agricultural Research and Extension Centers, and/or private farms, landscaping companies, golf courses, sports fields, or agricultural businesses.
Career-oriented describes the curriculum of this associate degree program. Courses are designed and developed to give students the knowledge and hands-on experience needed to pursue a career in Applied Agricultural Management or Landscape and Turf Management. Intensive career training is at the heart of the program. A student learns the how-to of a particular occupation while learning how to begin and progress in a career.
“My present position as a golf course superintendent was made possible through the education, training, and contacts made while a student in the Agricultural Technology Program. There is much more for me to learn, but the program has provided me an excellent knowledge base to work from, and I completed the program in just two years.”Rodney Hopkins, a 1993 graduate of the Landscape and Turf Management option
Hands-on experience is what former student Christopher Kite was looking for. He says,“My experience here has been positive. The hands-on experience is an excellent way to gain knowledge about a subject and the instructors are outstanding.”
The Agricultural Technology Program takes traditional topics and adds hands-on labs. Students are able to go outside the classroom to install a landscape they designed, conduct soil tests and plant tissue analyses, calibrate sprayers, artificially inseminate cattle, or analyze a business enterprise. This experience enhances the classroom assignments and provides a more interesting learning environment.
Small classes are an important element of the Agricultural Technology Program. The average class size of 24 permits extensive interaction between the faculty and students. Relationships developed between faculty members and students often last beyond the classroom into the professional career of the student.
- Roger Walker, a 1994 graduate of the Landscape and Turf Management option, was tired of spending most of his time away from his family driving 18-wheelers across the country. He decided to enroll in the program to pursue his interest in landscaping and hopes to open his own business some day.
- Walter Kayser, a 1993 graduate in the Animal Agriculture option, moved from one job to another after graduating high school but was never really satisfied. Walter wanted a challenging and rewarding career. Since graduation, Walter has been working as an assistant farm manager on a large, diversified farm in Central Virginia and is truly enjoying his new career.
- Tom Wilson, a 1992 graduate in the Landscape and Turf Management option, never found true satisfaction in his work after graduating from college with a bachelor's degree. Today, Tom is extremely pleased with his new career working as a national sales representative for a large company and is making more money than he used to.
Work experience is gained through an internship normally completed between the first and second year of classes. Students choose a job that suits their interests and work for a minimum of 10 weeks. This opportunity provides valuable work experience that enhances a resume. The internship also helps students solidify career goals and helps determine what they truly like or dislike about the job.
Program graduates obtain great jobs. Industry demands individuals with training beyond the high school level. Graduates fulfill this need with a practical education, enabling them to hit the ground running when they begin their careers.
Salaries are competitive with those offered to four-year graduates. Students may also receive comprehensive benefits packages, which often include health insurance, housing, use of a vehicle, free golf, and farm and agribusiness products.
The average entering class has 60 students, resulting in a small-town feel at a large university. Classmates become some of the best friends you will make in your lifetime.
- Robert Patrick, a 1996 graduate in the Animal Agriculture option: “I have had some great experiences already. I have met great new friends and it feels like we are already a family.”
- Trey Tanner, a 1996 graduate in the Landscape and Turf Management option: “I think the teachers in the program are willing to take the extra step to help a student be successful.”
- Meredith Mohler Seal, a 1996 graduate in the Agricultural Business option: “My experience in the Agricultural Technology Program was great. I was surprised at how friendly the people are and how eager they are to help you.”
Virginia Tech has more than 450 student organizations that are open to all students. Involvement in these extra-curricular activities is an excellent way for students to make the most of college life and meet others with similar interests. Students can participate in the collegiate chapter of the Virginia Farm Bureau Young Farmers, as well as other clubs, including Block and Bridle, Dairy Science, Horticulture, Turf, Agronomy, and the Agricultural Economics/National Agricultural Marketing Association.
Students who complete the Agricultural Technology Program with a minimum 3.0 GPA and the required high school course work may qualify for automatic acceptance into a four-year degree program in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. The articulation agreement allows students to transfer credits toward a four-year degree. The number of credits transferred is up to the individual department where the student is transferring. Approximately 10 percent of the graduating agricultural technology students elect to continue their education by entering a four-year program immediately after graduation.
This is an excellent opportunity for students who gain academic confidence and experience success in the program. It is important to note that once a student begins the Agricultural Technology Program, he or she must complete the degree before being successfully admitted to a four-year program. Students will not be considered after one year of course work. This policy is necessary to protect the program’s primary mission to provide an applied education that is significantly different from traditional academic course work in a four-year program.