January 15th, 2021

Business Beat: Agroecology brings careers and innovation

By Medicine Hat News Opinion on December 31, 2020.

Agriculture is a foundational element of our regional economy and I’m proud to be part of the team bringing Medicine Hat College’s new Agroecology program to life. Sometimes overlooked and underappreciated, agriculture provides jobs and business opportunity today and I’m confident the future holds increasing investment and success.

Our new diploma program will serve individual students, but we’re also determined to link with business to provide applied research and innovation opportunities. The college is known for its focus on students, so that’s the place to start.

The term “agroecology” reflects the unique elements of the new program. Individual students will find we’re focusing on sustainable agriculture. In essence, producing food, forage, fiber, and fuel using sustainable methods, as well as a range of knowledge in the three E’s: environment, economics, and energy using systems theory.

However, students in the program will spend a lot of time outside the classroom. As students enter the second year, we’ll provide real-world experience in designing, monitoring and assessing sustainable agroecological systems. I think many of our students will come with backgrounds on the family farm, so they’ll be used to getting their hands dirty.

We know we need to connect so our students are developing skills that meet workplace needs. Those connections, combined with the practical work in the program, will create additional opportunities for business.

This program will be on the leading edge of the college’s growing commitment to applied research and innovation. Again, the choice of words is important. “Applied” research means we’ll focus on the real problems and opportunities of business.

Working together, we can learn from the depth of experience and knowledge in our business community, while engaging the creativity and energy of students. Nothing would make me happier than working with students and faculty to help a new business start, or launch an existing business to the next phase of growth.

There are opportunities to expand the region by enhancing the work that’s already happening. Whether we’re on the land, or within the realm of indoor agriculture, this sector of the economy is vital and MHC is ready to build and grow meaningful partnerships.

I welcome conversations about linking college and industry. Connect with Clay at cbos@mhc.ab.ca

Clay Bos is the Interim Dean of Arts, Science & Education at MHC

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