Lincoln, Neb. — Wayne State College and the University of Nebraska–Lincoln have partnered to offer students an innovative pathway to an agriculture and natural resources degree in northeast Nebraska. Students who complete the new dual-degree program will receive two bachelor’s degrees: an applied science degree (concentration in agriculture and natural resources) from Nebraska and a life sciences degree (concentration in biology) from Wayne State.
With the growing population of the world, natural resources must be understood and used wisely. In this program, students will study agriculture and biology to become professionals who can apply concepts, processes and procedures to manage resources in the areas of food, animal and plant systems. Students will study biology of natural systems as well as the impact human society has on the natural world.
Program candidates will begin their education with coursework at Wayne State, then finish the degree with the University of Nebraska–Lincoln while remaining, if they desire, in northeast Nebraska to complete the final year online or in a laboratory setting. With these degrees, graduates will be prepared for careers in everything from animals to plants, soil to climate, business to mechanization, leadership to food. Students will take 90 credit hours (including 30 hours of general education) with Wayne State and finish with 30 credit hours that can be completed online or at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.
Wayne State and University of Nebraska–Lincoln leaders convened Oct. 29 on the Wayne State campus to discuss the program with news media. Leaders included Marysz Rames, president of Wayne State; Steven Elliott, vice president for academic affairs at Wayne State; Michael Boehm, Harlan Vice Chancellor for the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources at Nebraska and vice president for agriculture and natural resources at the University of Nebraska system; and Tiffany Heng-Moss, dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources at Nebraska.
“We have been working on this for a little over a year now,” Rames said. “We started to talk about what we could do to really serve students in this part of the state in agriculture and worked through the details of what that might look like, really looking at our curriculum to see what kinds of programs and courses we provide that will blend nicely with the university.”
There are many students for whom the program would be a great pathway, each of the leaders said. The program places a high priority on being responsive to the needs of students.
“The idea is maximum flexibility for the students,” Boehm said. “This is really all about student choice. Some students would prefer to stay in northeast Nebraska, here at Wayne State. Others may choose to move from Wayne to UNL. I think the key thing here is that the students in this dual-degree program get to experience both campuses, both cultures, and that really is an enriching opportunity where they get to learn about even more perspectives than if they were at one institution.”
Academic partnerships often work by providing students with access to resources that suit their situation, such as location, relevance, and quality. The Nebraska-Wayne State partnership provides students with a wide range of options that serve their career goals and the Nebraska workforce.
“Agriculture is very important to the state of Nebraska,” Heng-Moss said. “One in every four jobs is connected to the agricultural and natural resources industry, and that holds true here in this part of the state. So this program is a wonderful opportunity for us to be able to leverage the strengths of our two institutions. The benefit for students is they can obtain a dual credential. There are a lot of opportunities for us to work together to be able to support agriculture and to help develop the next generation of problem-solvers, innovators and leaders that will go on to advance what we do here in northeast Nebraska as well as the state of Nebraska and beyond on the global platform.”
Boehm said: “This a brain gain for Nebraska. It’s keeping Nebraskans in Nebraska by making a sought-after program accessible. This gives students a chance to stay here geographically tethered to their community, contribute to their community and the economy, and really pursue two great degrees from two amazing institutions.”
Elliott said: “We are really excited to lock arms with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in this program. This is an outstanding partnership, something we’re very proud of and very excited for. And we’re really looking forward to students being able to pursue an agricultural degree right here in northeast Nebraska.”
For more information, visit https://www.wsc.edu/homepage/398/applied_science_degree_programs. Wayne State College, a regional, public four-year college in northeast Nebraska, is a member of the Nebraska State College System.