With its mantra of faith, family and farming, the vision of the Haupert Institute for Agricultural Studies is to promote a Christian perspective on agriculture, recognizing our responsibility to be good stewards of God’s creation and responding to global socio-economic issues.
Raymie Porter, director for the Institute, expressed that a program of this magnitude was greatly needed in this area at this time. Besides Purdue University, Huntington University is the only other school in the state of Indiana that offers an agricultural studies program with a four-year degree.
“We see that there is a niche here in higher education for agriculture,” Porter said. “There are very few programs across the country that are Christian-college based, Christian-worldview based programs in agriculture.”
Porter said that under the leadership of Dr. Fred Loew, the university holds a strong legacy in agriculture education. In the early 20th century, a robust agriculture curriculum was taught here. The opening of the Haupert Institute for Agriculture Studies will again give students the option to gain a Christian education in agriculture in Indiana.
While developing this program, an Agriculture Task Force was established to help the university determine what employers in this field are looking for and how to best prepare students to meet those expectations.
“The [Agriculture] Task Force was set up about a year and a half ago as we began to kinda explore whether we wanted to offer an [agriculture] program at Huntington,” President Sherilyn Emberton, Ed.D., said. “It’s made up of people from banking, it’s made up of people who actually have farms, it’s made up of people who sell farm land — all the different types of businesses that might be involved in [agriculture].”
Freshman Madison Riley, an agribusiness management and crop production major, expressed great joy that the University started its agribusiness program. Growing up in an agricultural background, Riley said she chose agribusiness because there are many job opportunities in Indiana for such a versatile degree. Huntington was her choice because she said she felt welcome here, and recognized that the university was offering her a faith-based education in a field she was passionate about.
“I love the atmosphere and people,” Riley said. “Not only that, but Dr. Emberton was so genuine to me. She made me love the program before I even committed to HU.”
She also said she was drawn to the fact that she would be a part of the first class in the program.
“My legacy will always be at HU,” Riley said. “I have the opportunity to be a leader in the program — coming to HU gave me that opportunity, unlike other [agriculture] schools.”
Joseph Kessie, an Agriculture Task Force member and agriculture loan lender at Lake City Bank, said that agriculture businesses are also thrilled about the University’s new major.
“A lot of the agribusinesses I talk to are excited about having this agriculture program here as a source of future employees,” he said.
There is also a gardening club available to students interested in agriculture. Led by Collin Hobbs, assistant professor of biology, the universities Horticultural Club met for the first time on September 15, to discuss what students wanted the club to look like.
This semester, there is only one agriculture class offered. Porter noted that agri-related classes were already being offered through other departments — like the science and business departments.
“I only have one [agriculture] class this year,” Riley said. “However, I really enjoy them all, even the classes I was nervous for. My professors most definitely helped me feel confident for the semesters. I am so blessed that HU started an [agriculture] program.”