Agreement Between Colleges to Make Path to Ag Communication Degree Easier
January 2, 2024
NORFOLK/WAYNE, Neb. — Officials with Wayne State College and Northeast Community College say agriculture is the backbone of the United States.
With a shortage in the field in agriculture, two colleges in northeast Nebraska are hoping to grow the interest with an agreement.
Officials with both colleges said this will benefit the side of agriculture that informs the public about the industry.
“We have so many young people in northeast Nebraska interested in FFA and 4-H, it just seemed to be a natural fit,” professor emeritus of Wayne State Dr. Deborah Whitt said.
An idea that was brought from a former student who went to both colleges and wanted other students to have a clear pathway for the communications field.
“She had given all of us feedback that we should really talk together and try to make sure there was a really solid pathway,” Director of the Ag Program at Northeast Community College Jill Heemstra said.
Two percent of the population lives on farmland and Heemstra said it’s important to encourage occupations outside of traditional agriculture.
“Living in a rural area, it really helps to know the agriculture side of things and to be able to identify those interesting stories and to ask really good questions,” Heemstra said.
Whitt echoes Heemstra’s sentiment and said communicating with those in the ag field is a necessity.
“As I mentioned, any organization needs an individual who can communicate effectively to the public about their Ag products,” Whitt said.
Students who complete an associate’s in agriculture at Northeast Community College are now able to earn a four year degree at Wayne State in Agriculture Communications and Leadership.
This is something Heemstra cares deeply as her sister has been in the Ag communications industry.
“It’s really fun to talk to her about some of the challenges, some of the opportunities in this career path and a lot of the friendships she has,” Heemstra said. “Just seeing what a tight knit community the Ag communicator world is. I’m excited to help students join that world.”
Both Whitt and Heemstra said there has already been a pathed paved as some students at Wayne State have already moved on in the industry at the Haskel Ag-Lab in Concord and UNL Ag programs in Lincoln.