agricultural journalism program nearing vote on final
By Marie Christensen
March 30, 2006 | Agriculture and journalism are on
their way to becoming partners at Utah State University.
After two years of research and preparation, leaders
in the departments of journalism & communication
and agricultural systems technology and education (ASTE)
hope to see agricultural journalism offered as a new
major beginning in fall 2006.
"Basically it's a merging of a communications and
journalism degree with an agriculture degree," ASTE
Associate Professor Rudy Tarpley said. "So students
will be able to compete in the journalism market and
work in agriculture. It truly is a partnership."
The new major would require only one new class in
the ASTE Department: Introduction to Agricultural Communication.
Students would take all the same classes required for
a journalism and communication degree with the addition
of agriculture classes. In a nutshell, it's like having
two degrees in one, Tarpley said.
"We believe we are putting agriculturally literate
people in society," he said.
"I think it's absolutely going to explode."
Journalism department Head Mike Sweeney said this kind
of degree makes a USU student much more marketable in
journalism and agriculture professions because of the
background it provides in agricultural communication.
"I'd say it's the combination of skills," he said.
"You can't have one without the other to market yourselves
toward these kinds of jobs."
Currently there are about a dozen students interested
in participating in the agriculture communications program
and the two departments expect there will be about 50
students enrolled in this major within five years, Tarpley
Sweeney hopes that eventually, if enough students
become interested in this major, the university will
be able to hire a new faculty member in the journalism
The proposal for the new major has been approved by
the administration and the Board of Trustees and is
being submitted to the Utah Board of Regents. A final
decision will be made this summer during the regents'
"We've got our fingers crossed for this next fall,"
The two departments don't anticipate any additional
costs due to the new major. Currently there are only
a few colleges and universities throughout the nation
that offer this degree including Oklahoma State University,
Texas Tech University and University of Florida, Tarpley
"There's no other ag/journalism program in the Intermountain
West," Sweeney said.