TRU ranching program undergoes substantial revamp, renamed 'regenerative agriculture'

TRU revamps ag program

Thompson Rivers University says its applied sustainable ranching diploma program offered in Williams Lake has undergone a substantial revamp, adding new courses and giving it a new name.

According to the university, the program underwent an external review last year to seek areas areas for improvement.

Some of the changes include making all courses three credits and are three weeks long and making the host-farm practicum more formalized as a credit course and giving students performance review by their supervisors.

The three new courses include food sovereignty, technology in agriculture and emergency preparedness.

“Our faculty and staff are so excited to be delivering this unique program under a new name and structure to better reflect the program content and make it accessible to a wider range of students and adult learners,” says Gillian Watt, program co-ordinator.

“With the effects of climate change looming all around us, the importance of understanding and learning how to apply regenerative agriculture practices has never been more vital.”

The renamed program will now be known as regenerative agriculture, the university said, and will include both certificate and diploma options. But TRU said the program will retain its foundation in business management and soil health.

The changes were approved by the university's board of governors on Friday after being green-lit by TRU'a senate in September.

According to a report from the university’s budget committee in September, the program is expected to have an accumulated deficit of over $19,000 by Year 3, but by Year 4 is expected to generate an accumulated surplus of more than $43,000, increasing to $108,000 by Year 5 — as long as enrolment meets projections by growing significantly.

“The profitability of the program is dependant on headcount growing to 96 by Year 5,” the report reads.

According to reports given to the board, there are currently 20 students in the program and is expected to double to 40 students within five years.

The same reports on the certificate and diploma programs say the program modifications will cost $7,000.

Graduates of the diploma program will receive credit recognition for Olds College’s highly regarded bachelor of applied science program, or internally into TRU’s bachelor of general studies.

“It's become very much a reputational piece in Williams Lake area, and it's one that we certainly want to support," Gillian Balfour, TRU provost and vice-president academic, said to the board.

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