Agricultural Institute launches annual open house
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NC State University

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Agricultural Institute launches
annual open house

Among the opportunities for visiting students (at left) was a chance to experience classes representing the Agricultural Institute's major programs.  (Photo by Sheri D. Thomas)

Practical. Hands-on. Family atmosphere.
Excellent career opportunities.

Those were some of the key messages about the College’s Agricultural Institute delivered to more than 250 students from 14 North Carolina high schools attending the first annual Agricultural Institute Open House at N.C. State University.

The event began with lunch at the Talley Student Center ballroom, where Dr. John Cornwell, director of the Agricultural Institute, welcomed the students and briefly outlined the kinds of opportunities available.

“We’re glad you’re here and considering N.C. State and the Agricultural Institute as you choose the careers that will enable you to give back to North Carolina,” Cornwell told the group. “What we offer here is a two-year program with all the resources of a major land-grant, Research I university. Here you have the opportunity to go out in the field, the greenhouses and the farms for a practical hands-on approach to teaching and learning.” He also mentioned the job placement success of graduates of the Institute.

Picking up on that note, Dr. Ken Esbenshade, the College’s associate dean and director of Academic Programs, told the group of 9th- through 12th-graders, “Now is the time for you to consider what you want to do after high school. This is a day of career opportunities: You’ll learn what it takes to get here, what it takes to be successful here and what careers await you after completion of the program.”

“Look around you on the campus and you’ll see people dedicated to learning,” Esbenshade said. “We want you to be dedicated to learning, too.”

The Agricultural Institute’s two-year program is designed for students who want a curriculum focused on technical and practical knowledge as well as hands-on experience. Graduates of the Agricultural Institute receive an Associate of Applied Science degree from N.C. State University.

The high school students began their day in Raleigh at the Southern Farm Show at the N.C. State Fairgrounds before coming to the university campus. Following the lunch program, the visitors attended afternoon mini-classes representing some of the Institute’s major programs, including agribusiness, food safety, ornamentals and landscape technology, livestock management, pest management, turf grass management and field crops technology. Afterward, Agricultural Institute students conducted tours of the university campus, followed by a reception back at the student center, complete with ice cream from the Food Science Department.

“We created this open house as an opportunity for high school students to be in a university setting, see how classes are taught, meet professors and get a glimpse of campus life,” said Institute mathematics lecturer Tuck Schneider, who coordinated the event with John Russ, Institute lecturer in agricultural and resource economics and co-chair of the Institute’s recruitment committee.

Russ indicated that the inaugural open house was made possible through the help of more than 25 Institute students, along with numerous faculty members and staff, “which reinforces the fact that we are a family,” he said. “I would like to see the open house regarded as the start of our big campaign to celebrate the Agricultural Institute with alumni, teachers, industry partners and our many friends. This is just the first of our ‘coming home’ and ‘getting to know us’ events planned for this year. There are many more to come.”

Among those planned events is the 2002 Agricultural Institute Alumni Reunion, tentatively scheduled for Nov. 9 at the State Fairgounds’ Holshouser Building. Russ emphasized that Institute alumni are “helping to plan and lead these efforts,” as he extended the invitation for more alumni to get involved.

Through activities such as the open house, Russ said, “We are helping all students, regardless of their educational plans, make wise educational choices, and we are strongly advocating higher education.”

—Terri Leith


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