Agricultural Sciences2019-07-23T13:39:06+00:00

About the Program

Ferrum College is the only private college in Virginia that offers a four-year degree in Agricultural Science and teacher licensure in vocational agriculture. A diversified four-year curriculum stresses the theory, art, and practice of agriculture while also emphasizing the intimate intersections with sustainability. Within this framework, students consider the environmental, economic, and social ramifications of agricultural practices in an increasingly resource-strained world.

Emphasis Areas

The five program emphasis areas of Animal Science, Agribusiness, Agronomy, Horticulture, and Equine Studies allow students to focus their study. Agricultural teaching is, by nature, a hands-on endeavor. This philosophy is embodied in labs, class exercises, practica, internships, and independent research. These diverse delivery methods allow students to apply theory in a practical, real-world setting. This broad preparatory approach is underscored by a comprehensive liberal arts base to prepare graduates for a wide range of career opportunities. Students interested in a career in primary or secondary school teaching may study Animal Science or Horticulture and minor in Teacher Education.

The Animal Science emphasis focuses on the science and business of producing and managing farm and companion animals.

Courses in Animal Science may include Animal Nutrition, Domestic Animal Reproduction, and Animal Diseases.

The Agribusiness emphasis focuses on the study of the business of agriculture, especially using advanced technology.

Courses in Agribusiness may include Accounting and Macroeconomics, and Agronomy, Animal Science, or Horticulture courses.

The Agronomy emphasis focuses on field crop production and soil management.

Courses in Agronomy may include Animal and Plant Breeding and Genetics, Plant Physiology and Biotechnology, and Plant Diseases.

The Horticulture emphasis allows for the study of plant propagation, as well as the construction, maintenance, and utilization of greenhouses.

Courses in Horticulture may include Soil Science and Management, Plant Pest Management, and Plant Propagation.

The Equine Studies emphasis provides the flexibility to design a program geared towards hippotherapy, riding team, trainer, stable manager, pre-vet, and more – all complemented with foundational coursework in business.

Courses in Equine Studies may include Horse Science, Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies, Stable Management, Ag Business Management, and Entrepreneurship.

Ferrum College is the only institution in Virginia with a 4 year Bachelor’s program leading to teacher education licensure. Interested students typically major in Agriculture, and pursue an animal science or horticulture specialization with the Teacher Education minor.

The curriculum incorporates a variety of topics to prepare students for opportunities in agriculture, including:

  • Introduction to Animal Science
  • Field & Forage Crop Production
  • Farm Business Management
  • Livestock Evaluation and Judging
  • Soil Science and Management
  • Animal Nutrition
  • Introduction to Plant Science
  • Animal Diseases
  • Plant Diseases
  • Fitting and Showing
  • Animal and Plant Breeding and Genetics
  • Plant Pest Management
  • Greenhouse Management
  • Horse Science

Students can choose from over 50 clubs and organizations at Ferrum College. The following are specifically related to the Agricultural Sciences:

  • Agriculture Club:  Affiliated with the Collegiate Young Farmers (Farm Bureau), the club works with local farmers and assists with the yearly Folklife Festival. This student-led club also organizes and conducts yearly plant sales using the greenhouse facilities at the Titmus Agricultural Center. The club’s membership is a diverse cross-section of majors – a reflection of its broad appeal.
  • National Agriculture Honor Society (Delta Tau Alpha):  Promotes and recognizes high standards of scholarship, leadership, and character among agricultural students.
  • Equestrian Club:  Ferrum College recently established a new equestrian club in partnership with Healing Strides of Virginia, a therapeutic riding facility in Boones Mill, VA. In addition to weekly riding lessons, student club members volunteer five hours a week at the facility and have the opportunity to participate in horsemanship clinics where they can improve their horsemanship skills.
Ferrum College believes that hands-on learning is a natural extension of classroom study. 

Research puts classroom theory to practice.  In effect, research brings the educational Experience full circle.  As mentors, faculty can shepherd students through the scientific process and identify a project that’s compatible with their interests.

  • Dr. Bob Pohlad’s research interests include the use of Appalachian watersheds in undergraduate and community experiential education and web-based collaborative ecological teaching and research using a watershed project.
  • Dr. Tim Durham’s research interests include crop variety evaluation, underutilized and niche crops, Best Management Practices (BMP’s), especially as they relate to slow release fertilizers, reduced risk and biological pesticides, and comparative risk assessment of transgenic and conventional crops.
  • Dr. Nancy Brubaker’s research interests include broad-based biomedical research as it applies to animal health, hypothyroidism in the domestic feline, the properties of the “dynamic” bone, and using animals as environmental markers (Lyme disease).

Internships are designed to further the learning experience by placing students in situations of responsibility and creativity.  Some past internships include:

  • Triple R Ranch, Chesapeake, VA
  • Rawhide Ranch, Bonsall, CA
  • Natural Resource Conservation Service, VA
  • Tidewater Agriculture Research and Extension Center (AREC), Suffolk, VA
  • United States Department of Agriculture, Plant Protection and Quarantine
  • Virginia Cooperative Extension, Rocky Mount, VA
  • Pilgrim’s Pride, Broadway, VA
  • Buffalo Gap High School, Swoope, VA

Campus Facilities and Field Trips:

The nearly 800-acre Ferrum campus serves as a living laboratory. The picturesque campus gardens include a program run arboretum and two campus greenhouses. The Titmus Agricultural Center provides opportunities for student projects with livestock and the Farm to Cafe Program, which markets college-grown produce to the campus dining hall. Students have been active participants in the construction and management of the farm, gardens, and greenhouses. In addition, faculty routinely take students to local, state, and regional farms, botanical gardens, nurseries, and orchards to give them firsthand experience with current agricultural practices and issues in the field. Offsite, the 172 acre Dehart Botanical Gardens in Patrick County, VA, provide a habitat for students to inquire about the natural world and how it intersects with our human footprint.

An Agricultural Sciences major can lead to traditional and non-traditional career and educational paths.  Potential examples include:

  • Soil Conservationist
  • Extension Agent
  • Vocational Agriculture Teacher
  • Farmer/Farm Manager
  • Greenhouse Manager
  • Commercial Loan Officer
  • Agricultural Scientist
  • Graduate School
  • Quality Assurance Supervisor
  • Golf Course Superintendent
  • Peace Corps/VISTA

A degree in agricultural science is a gateway to a promising career!  Recent Ferrum graduates credit their program of study for the following careers:

  • Sean Duff
    Field Representative
    Augusta Cooperative
  • Robin Albright Kavanaugh
    Animal Resources Manager
    Franklin College of Arts & Sciences
    University of Georgia
  • Joey Cornwell
    Ag Loan Officer
    Farm Credit of the Virginias
  • Sam Goin
    Southern States Cooperative
  • Dr. Kevin Bradley
    Associate Professor
    University of Missouri
  • Kyle Sturgis
    Precision Agronomist
    Helena Chemical

Find Out More

Faculty are active participants in the intellectual growth and development of students.  Feel free to contact them with questions about the program.

Dr. Bob Pohlad
Emphasis Area:  Horticulture

Dr. Tim Durham
Emphasis Areas:  Agronomy, Agribusiness

Dr. Nancy Brubaker
Emphasis Areas:  Animal Science, Equine Studies