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SVCC agribusiness program produces its first graduate / August 23, 2012
Southside Virginia Community College’s agribusiness program filled what had been a void in college-level agricultural education for residents of Southside Virginia.

Beginning with the fall semester of 2010, the Agribusiness program became the educational pathway for residents to achieve easily accessible higher learning in agriculture in their communities. Courses are currently offered on the Alberta and Keysville campuses and at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center in South Boston.

The available courses culminate in a student earning a Career Studies Certificate, an Associate’s Degree in Applied Science, or an Associate’s Degree in Arts & Sciences, typically used to transfer to a four-year college or university. These college degrees assist the graduate in becoming more qualified for the over 250 agribusiness career possibilities.

A high school graduate from Nottoway County, who had also completed his Associate’s Degree in Business Management from SVCC, saw the Agribusiness advertisement in his local newspaper. Coming from a family agricultural background of raising tobacco and beef cattle, William “David” Norton desired to continue his higher education in this field.

Norton was aware of the substantial cost savings of a community college compared to an agricultural program at a four-year college or university. He also liked the timely and regional availability of SVCC’s agribusiness program. Realizing that education would be the bridge to his success, Norton enrolled in the new Agribusiness program. To complete the Career Studies Certificate in Agribusiness, he took coursework in plant science and technology, animal science and technology, agribusiness management and finance, marketing, food safety and biosecurity, and human resource management.

By completing twenty agribusiness credit hours, David became the first SVCC student to be awarded a Career Studies Certificate in Agribusiness. His primary area of interest was the plant science and technology course which enabled him to pursue a career in plant research.

Virginia Tech’s research and extension stations are situated around the Commonwealth. Each station promotes plant analysis and/or animal study coupled with field trials. Their research results provide valuable agrarian advice on which many farm owners rely. One such station is located in Blackstone.

Upon earning his Career Studies Certificate in Agribusiness, David applied for a full-time position with the Southern Piedmont Agricultural Research and Extension Center, and, with his advanced agribusiness knowledge, David was hired to conduct tobacco plant research on a full-time basis.

David felt that his Career Studies Certificate in Agribusiness provided him an advantage over the competition.

In David’s words, “the Agribusiness program most definitely helped me get this job and helped me understand lots of things about my job.”

David was equipped with the proper educational background knowledge applicable to the job, and the Agribusiness program helped him to gain this essential knowledge. David’s concentration on plant science and technology proved a valuable asset.

As David says, “the Agribusiness program if great for expanding your knowledge on the raising of crops and livestock.” The program also provides essential business skills in management, finance, marketing, and human resource management.

Many employers prefer to hire applicants with advanced education in their field. This education shows that the individual has dedication to the field, a genuine interest in the field, and has obtained the necessary background knowledge to perform the duties of the job position. National studies have shown that there are more job opportunities available in the agricultural field than there are qualified graduates to fill them. SVCC is doing its part to help alleviate the shortfall.

To begin your pathway to success with SVCC’s Agribusiness program, just visit to learn more about the program and to register for fall classes. While the fall semester begins on Tuesday, August 21, classes can be added up through Monday, August 27. For more information, contact the Agribusiness program director, Dr. Dixie Watts Dalton, by phone (434-949-1053) or email (.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)).

You can also find the program on Facebook: “Agribusiness, Southside Virginia Community College.” Farms, businesses, and organizations interested in participating in the internship program can also contact Dr. Dalton for additional information.

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