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Organic ag major expands to Western Washington

EVERETT, Wash. – Western Washington residents now have the option to earn a Washington State University degree in organic agriculture—in their own back yard.

Starting with the spring 2018 semester, WSU will offer an organic ag major at the WSU Everett campus.

Purple flower in foreground with farm building in background
A view of the Eggert Family Organic Farm on the WSU Pullman campus. The farm is a training ground for WSU students interested in organic agriculture.

“There are a lot of people who have families, jobs, or other factors that keep them from moving across the state to eastern Washington,” said John Reganold, WSU Regents professor of Soil Science & Agroecology. “This allows them to get their degree without moving, and to learn from our world-class teachers and researchers.”

Courses will be taught in-person or via videoconference by WSU faculty from the Mount Vernon Northwestern Washington Research and Extension Center, the WSU Pullman campus, and other sites statewide.

“Washington, the number two producer of organic food in the US, has the right climate, great farmland, and farmers who love growing delicious, nutritious crops,” Reganold said.

Community college coordination

What’s more, students can start the degree program at Everett Community College. WSU recently signed an agreement with the community college that allows students to study there for two years and then transition to the WSU organic ag program to earn a bachelor’s degree. WSU is working on similar agreements with other community colleges in the state, providing students a smooth transition into the WSU Everett program. All these efforts add up to greater access for students and more skilled graduates for Washington agriculture.

WSU Everett

“This program expands the potential to provide trained graduates to support and expand the vibrant organic ag industry in western Washington,” said Desmond Layne, director of WSU’s College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences’ Agricultural and Food Systems and Integrated Plant Sciences degree programs. “The possibility of more linkages with industry for student education, research, and outreach is all excellent.”

More research, outreach

For farmers on the west side of Washington, the degree program spells more research and outreach as well. WSU received funding from the Washington state legislature to enable the expanded organic ag major and to ensure the robustness of agricultural teaching, research, and extension in Western Washington.

“In addition to the degree program offering, the Legislature’s investment will result in more research and outreach to support farmers in Western Washington,” said Chad Kruger, director of the Mount Vernon research center. “There is a double benefit for Western Washington agriculture: access to more employees with a WSU education and more research to help solve the ongoing problems facing west-side agriculture.”

To learn more about the WSU Organic Agriculture Systems major, visit: http://cahnrs.wsu.edu/about/org-ag/.