MARTINSVILLE â Students aiming to pursue careers in agriculture still are welcome at Patrick Henry Community College (PHCC) although the school no longer will provide courses in the field, according to President Angeline Godwin.
They will be able to earn an associateâs in arts degree in general studies which will enable them to transfer into agriculture programs at universities such as Virginia Tech, Godwin said.
Some agricultural courses at PHCC will continue indefinitely so students already in the programs can finish earning their credentials, college officials have said.
An overall lack of enrollment in the programs has prompted PHCC to drop them because, amid budget cuts, itâs no longer financially feasible to offer them, Godwin said.
Specifically, the associate in applied science in agribusiness degree program and the career studies certificate programs in horticulture and viticulture (growing grapes to make wine) are being ceased.
Having worked at PHCC since 2012, Godwin did not know how long each program has been at the college. But since 2009, the program has been part of a consortium with Southwest Virginia Community College and Southside Community College. Agriculture students at each have taken some of their courses on campus and others through a video link with courses taught at the other colleges.
Godwin grew up on a peanut farm in Alabama. Due to her experience with farming, it pains her for PHCC to have to eliminate its agriculture programs, she said.
âThereâs just not enough (students) to sustain the programs,â she continued. The programs ânever have had a large enrollment. Itâs been modest, and it has been on the declineâ in recent years.
The agribusiness program was created, Godwin said, for students wanting a business-related degree focused on agricultural operations. It was targeted toward various people, from those wanting to become farmers to those interested in working in sales or marketing for agricultural businesses, she said.
During the past few years, the program averaged enrollment of 11 to 13 students each year, with four to eight graduating annually, Godwin said.
PHCC officials tried to boost enrollment by connecting the program with the collegeâs business technology program, but that was unsuccessful, she said.
Enrollment in the horticulture and viticulture programs in recent years has been in the single digits and âweâve not had a graduate in these programs,â she added.
She doesnât know why the numbers have been so low. She speculated, though, that it has something to do with agriculture no longer being a prominent part of the local economy. Agriculture remains heavy in Patrick County but it seems âHenry County has less than it used to,â such as through a decline in the number of farms, she…