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UWRF, FVTC joining forces to create agriculture transfer degree program

October 30, 2008

UW-River Falls and Fox Valley Technical College (FVTC) are working on a 2+2 Agriculture and Transfer Agreement Program which would entail students spending two years at each school to complete a baccalaureate degree.

“What we’re attempting to do is develop a program which would allow them to receive two years of credit for their work at a technology college system and apply that not as a course-by-course transfer but a program-to-program transfer into our program where they could conceivably complete their degree in another two years in a baccalaureate degree,” Associate Professor of Agriculture Engineering Technology Jerry Nechville said.

A grant that was written by FVTC indicates the importance of Wisconsin students receiving a four year baccalaureate degree instead of just a two year associate degree. It is estimated that 30 to 50 percent that enroll in the agriculture technology program at UWRF are from FVTC. However, there is still a need for expanding transferring so that students can achieve a baccalaureate degree at a four year university.

UWRF is particularly interested in FVTC because it is one of the oldest agricultural programs in the technical college system. It is well-established and has several faculty alumni that are connected to UWRF.

The difference between the two year degree at FVTC and the four year degree at UWRF is the intent in training service technicians for local dealerships.

“[UWRF is] providing education for students to move into the field as application engineers or field-test engineers,” Nechville said. 

One of the criticisms of UWRF is that it does not have an extensive experience of hands-on teaching. UWRF focuses more on teaching theory of technical education. While the technical colleges are heavy on the hands-on teaching they would spend two months on a specific area where a university might only spend a month.

There is also a higher demand for a four year degree, because it would increase salary for graduates of this 2+2 Agriculture and Transfer Agreement Program.

“With the potential of earning a higher wage [after graduation] and college expenses…it will continue to be a factor in a student’s decision to attend FVTC or UWRF,” instructor and Department Chair of FVTC’s Agriculture Program, Randy Tenpas said.

Many students are unaware of these opportunities, and because the program is expanding, it’s important for students to gain that knowledge. According to Nechville, many people who go to a technical college think they are not ready for university level schooling, some then decide that they are capable, which is why transferring is common among students at universities.

Right now FVTC and UWRF are working to review the curriculum and are making sure that it is aligned with the guidelines for achieving a four year baccalaureate degree. They will be looking at the courses that each individual has and then see how they correspond to the program at UWRF. The plan is to be finalized two years from this fall according to the grant that was issued.