Sweet Briar College puts new emphasis on agriculture and resource conservation

WDBJ7's Michael Alachnowicz reports
Published: Dec. 1, 2020 at 5:20 PM EST
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AMHERST COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ) - The rolling fields of Amherst County will see new hands tending to them in the coming years.

Sweet Briar College nearly shut down five years ago.

But now on the rebound, they’re making a push to get more students in agriculture.

“For many years, Sweet Briar’s landscape has been used as a site for experiential learning in classes by the faculty and the students,” said Lisa Powell, professor of environmental science and sustainability director.

Powell says the new push can make greater use of the college’s 2800 acres.

She says a new class is being offered to encourage more interest in agriculture. That course will not just teach students how to farm, but how to also market the produce they grow.

“I feel that course is for students to really get their hands dirty and get an introduction to our different agricultural operations on campus,” said Powell.

As a part of that, they’ve paired up with the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

They say they’re helping the college with maintaining the land and educating students.

“The idea is, first of all, in a setting like here at Sweet Briar, when you promote this, the students learn it and it’s very important and it’s a part of the college curriculum,” said Don Yancey, district conservationist.

“We really want to prepare our students to be part of that trend of women having leadership roles both on the farm and in other areas related to agriculture and conservation as well,” said Powell.

The college plans to expand agricultural output over the next few years.

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