The University of the Fraser Valley’s agriculture department is no longer the forgotten “ugly duckling.”
After years of being pushed to the side and ignored with favour lying more on obtaining university status and advancing the more “prestigious” social sciences and humanities programs, UFV’s agriculture department is making a comeback.
That was the clear message delivered at Wednesday’s all-day horticulture and agriculture summit held at Chilliwack Coast Hotels.
The event was a meeting of minds between UFV’s agriculture department and the Netherlands’ HAS Den Bosch University of Applied Sciences bringing representatives from both universities and the farming communities together.
Not only did it present best practices used in the Netherlands, one of the world’s leading exporters of agriculture product, but it also put UFV’s agriculture department “on the map” both locally and internationally.
“We’ve shown our communities that we exist, that the agriculture department exists,” said Tom Baumann, UFV agriculture professor.
Chilliwack is the centre of agriculture with more than 800 farms located here, and a good portion of its economy coming out of the farming sector. And yet, over the years, the agriculture department at UFV was on the back burner.
UFV president Mark Evered started the day off by reaffirming the university’s commitment to agriculture through community and international partnerships, leading-edge research projects and upgraded educational facilities at the new Chilliwack campus.
As well, students in attendance learned they could very well have a new bachelor’s degree in horticulture to look forward to in the next two to three years.
Currently the university only offers a bachelor of business administration for agriculture management degree.
The first draft proposal of the new degree has been sent into the provincial government for approval, a process that generally takes a couple of years.
“We’re hoping that our students now in their first year would be able to take advantage of [the degree],” said Ora Steyn, UFV dean of science.
“Agriculture was almost allowed to die at UFV, which would have been a shame,” said Ron Wilen, UFV biology professor. “But now our current administration is all too willing to revive and build it.”
A win-win for students and the community.