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Ag program at Lethbridge College has a lot to offer

Posted on March 21, 2024 by admin

By Heather Cameron
Southern Alberta Newspapers
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

During the 2024 Ag Expo that was held in Lethbridge there was an event called ‘thinkAg: Career Fair’ hosted by Ag for Life, where youth from Coalhurst, Coaldale, Picture Butte, Cardston, W.R. Myers in Taber, and Warner came to learn from professionals associated with the agriculture industry. During that event, Byrne Cook, Chair of the School of Agriculture at Lethbridge College, spoke about the importance of always having another plan.

“There’s going to be opportunities and people that cross your paths that provide other opportunities for you to do something that maybe you haven’t already planned on,” said Cook.

“An example of such a thing happening,” Cook said, “transpired in his own life, when he applied for a Master’s degree at Washington State, and was figuring out housing two weeks prior to September, the school suddenly declared that there was no more admission for international students that year. That, Byrne said, left him with nowhere to go with his Master’s plan, but he was fortunate to also know someone that played a factor in his eventually being successful at doing his Master’s degree research at the University of Saskatchewan, and he  was also able to do his Master’s training at the Lethbridge Research Centre.

Whoever you might know, Byrne stated, can really change your life.

“As you go through and you think about your plans and you think about where you’re going to end up, think about the people that you know, because that really does make a huge difference,” said Cook. “It also makes a difference because the people that you know probably have a little bit of influence in things that you are interested in. Understanding what you don’t want to do is maybe not quite equally as important as what you want to do, but it’s right up there, so find those paths and change that direction and go through and shift.”

Cook then highlighted the college offers the opportunity for high school students to get dual credit.

“What you can do with this is you can go through, and you can take classes in high school, and get credit for high school and for the college,” said Cook. “There are about 60 different courses, and you can take those alongside students that we have at the college. You’ll have an advisor at the high school that’ll help you kind of follow through that program, but that gives you a little bit of an idea whether you like it or not. And those classes, even if you don’t come to Lethbridge College, they will transfer to other universities as well.”

For those who come to Lethbridge College to take agriculture, Cook said, they’ll be exposed to a little bit of everything in the program, including soils, plants, business, livestock, and you can kind of make up your mind which direction you want to go. After that, Cook said, the next decision is picking a major and even after getting a diploma, people can always take another major if another subject within the field interests them. Students, Cook said, can also either do some of the schoolwork at the college and transfer over to the University of Lethbridge for a degree, they can transfer to the University of Saskatchewan to finish their degree, or they can get their entire Bachelor of Agriculture Science degree right at Lethbridge College. 

“We found that the majority of our students want to be able to stay home, they want to be able to work on the farm and have their summer jobs right here and not have to travel wherever, and so that provides a lot of flexibility,” said Cook.

Another thing Cook mentioned was that the college might not have the largest agriculture program, but they have about a sixth of the scholarships.

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