New agribusiness program more popular than expected

By Anthony Engle on January 15 at 2:36pm

The new Illinois College agribusiness program is more popular than originally expected

According to enrollment data, more than five times the expected number of students in the IC student body have shown interest in the new agricultural classes, in agricultural finance and ag marketing. The program is still growing, with more than 200 incoming freshman having reportedly applied, with the new Illinois College agribusiness program as their reported major.

Dr. Michael Woods is assistant agribusiness professor at Illinois College. Dr. Woods is excited to have been selected as a part of the team creating and growing the new program.

“I was hired to join and develop the entire program. We’re part of the valuable and historically successful business department here on campus, and they wanted to add an ag business element. We did a soft launch of an initial course last spring, beginning in January, and it was an introduction to ag business. I had 44 students from across the campus actually take the course. Many of those students were students that came to Illinois College because: they value what the humanities and liberal arts education offers them, but they eventually want to work in the ag industry.”

Dr. Woods explains the program’s potential for recruiting new students and athletes.

“I went out, trying to recruit students, and the interesting thought was that we were going to have a challenge to do that. The irony is that we had many students from across this region but also from around the state saying that this program is exciting because they want to go in to an ag-related career but also want to go to a liberal arts college. Now we have that option here in Illinois. We also have many of our students participate in collegiate athletics. Many of these students come from rural communities. When they see the opportunity to play Division III sports and get an agricultural education, that is something that appeals to a lot of incoming freshmen because it’s a unique experience to offer students, in comparison to other institutions.”

Dr. Woods talks on how the program has become greatly embraced at Illinois College.

“What also is exciting is that lots of students came to elevate their interest in joining the program. The ‘five times more than expected students’ figure came about with a rough estimate of 12 expected students that would take the first agribusiness course. This past semester, in the fall, we started with two classes. We had an emerging issues in agriculture and natural resources course. We had two sections of that with a total of 44 students, and then in the ag marketing class we had 22 students. The total of 64 students is a little more than five times the original estimate of 12 students.”

For more information on the agribusiness management program at Illinois College, go online to ic.edu/agribusiness