Friday, July 3, 2015

Morrisville State College Continues to Grow its Ag Offerings

Kara Budinock, of Wolcott, Wayne County, a recent graduate of Morrisville State College’s horticulture floral design program, prepares poinsettias for a sale at the college. Horticulture students grow the colorful flowers to sell for the holidays.
Morrisville State College was founded in 1908 to provide agriculture and technology education for men and women.

More than 100 years later, its focus hasn’t changed.

Today, though, there are many more subject areas Morrisville students can delve into and several more degree options than in the early 1900s. In fact, in the past 20 years, the college that started by offering only two-year associate degrees has expanded to include four-year courses of study and bachelor’s degrees.

“We began by offering ag degrees for men and home economics for women,” said Christopher Nyberg, dean of the School of Agriculture, Sustainability, Business and Entrepreneurship at 

Morrisville State. He said these days, men and women enroll in ag programs, from ag mechanics and engineering to equine science, aquaculture and renewable energy.

Morrisville State students receive direction from their professor during a solar panel installation in the community in the agriculture department’s renewable energy program.
Morrisville has a total enrollment of 2,800, with about 950 students studying in the School of Agriculture, Sustainability, Business and Entrepreneurship.

Morrisville prides itself on preparing students for the real world. Many degree programs allow students to graduate and then immediately start their own business or fit nicely into another business.

For example, men and women in the dairy science program not only learn how to care, milk and feed cows, they are taught how to run a dairy business. Nyberg said if they see milk production is down in the herd, they check all the statistics of what and how much the cows are eating and drinking and try to devise solutions to increase milk production.

“It’s a good ag-based school with a close-knit group of people,” said Kara Budinock, 20, of Wolcott, Wayne County, who received her associate degree in greenhouse production in May and will return to school in the fall to work on her bachelor’s in horticulture business.

Joelle Detrick, who graduated from Morrisville in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural business development, gives a bath to one of the college’s Holsteins.
Budinock said Morrisville students get their hands dirty and have wide experiences in their chosen field.

“I loved the hands-on work,” she said.

One of the newest programs at Morrisville expands on the college’s ag programs to take in the local hops industry and craft brewing of beers.

Nyberg said a state grant and collaboration with Steve Miller, Cornell’s hops specialist for the state, resulted in:

** Morrisville housing a hops picker on campus (in a permanent enclosure designed and built by Morrisville students).

** The school’s ag students helping to rebuild the picker.

** Morrisville ag students designing and building their own hops picker, which will be used at the Geneva Experiment Station for its hops harvest this year.

** An agreement to build a brewery — in addition to the college’s restaurant, the Copper Turret — on campus so that local hops and barley can be used to create craft beers.

“Craft brewing and the craft beverage industry are growing,” Nyberg said. “There is an increasing demand for ag products for these, such as all the local barley and malt and hops.”

With this expansion, Morrisville students in the new Brewing Studies Program will be at the forefront of learning about brewing beer, growing hops and barley, and working in the brewing industry.

Bids for the brewing equipment and the design of the Copper Turret expansion are being sought. 

Nyberg said the Brewing Studies Program should be running for the 2016-17 academic year and will offer a certificate program with options in associate and bachelor’s degree programs.

Morrisville State also has been expanding its renewable energy curriculum, Nyberg said. Students are able to learn about solar, wind, hydroelectric, bioenergy and geothermal energy from installation of these systems to their design, operation and maintenance.

He said the college — which has had a methane digester for about 10 years to extract gas from cow manure to make electricity for the campus — will be getting a new digester that will use not only animal waste, but food waste also.

“We will take food waste from neighboring campuses (including Colgate University, Hamilton College and Cazenovia College) and other small agriculture industries and add it to our waste,” Nyberg said. “We can use that to generate heat and power for our campus, and it helps by keeping this waste out of the landfills.”

The agricultural degrees offered in Morrisville State College’s School of Agriculture, Sustainability, Business and Entrepreneurship:

Agriculture business
Agriculture engineering
Agriculture mechanics
Agriculture science
Animal science
Aquaculture and aquatic science
Equine racing management
Equine science and management

Agriculture business development
Dairy management
Equine science
Horticulture business management

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