DOYLESTOWN, Pa., — (10/1/12) — Beginning in the spring 2013 semester, Delaware Valley College, in collaboration with the Rodale Institute in Kutztown, Pa., will offer a 36-credit certificate program specifically designed for veterans interested in organic farming.
The one-year program will incorporate classroom courses on animal science, marketing, vegetable production, organic crop science, integrated pest management, weed science, entomology, and sustainable agriculture. It will be taught by Dr. Jacqueline Ricotta, DelVal’s Distinguished Faculty Award winner in 2012, and Dr. Debroux, the Department Chair for Natural Resources and Biosystems Management during the spring and fall semesters on the DelVal campus. During the summer semester, students will get hands-on experience at Rodale’s 333 acre organic farm, learning post-harvest, plant disease diagnosis, and soil health.
“Organic agriculture is an ecological production management system that promotes and enhances biodiversity, biological cycles and soil biological activity,” said Russell Redding, Dean of the School of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences.
The program, specifically designed with veterans in mind, harkens back Delaware Valley College’s roots, when Rabbi Joseph Krauskopf founded the National Farm School with the needs of young Jewish men in mind, teaching them agriculture, the calling of their ancestors.
“I know a lot of veterans who have a hard time committing to a 4-year degree, while trying to transition from doing four years or more in the military,” said Dennis Riling, Veteran Organic Farming Program coordinator and Marine Corps veteran. “This more accelerated program will meet the demands of returning soldiers who are facing a multitude of challenges and give them the tools for a new career. This is a mission-focused approach; the country needs more farmers and we need veterans’ help. The mission of food security is just as important as fighting terrorism, if not more.”
The program is more than just giving veterans the tools to farm and opens more opportunities. The management and leadership skills they have from the military, coupled with the accredited courses they will be taking in science, will enable them to obtain jobs with the USDA, organic producers, the food industry as a whole, or go into business for themselves. The program has a career placement and business plan development component as well.
U.S. sales of organic food and beverages have grown from $1 billion in 1990 to $26.7 billion in 2010. Sales in 2010 represented 7.7 percent growth over 2009 sales. Experiencing the highest growth in sales during 2010 were organic fruits and vegetables, up 11.8 percent over 2009 sales. (Source: Organic Trade Association’s 2011 Organic Industry Survey)
DelVal is a Yellow Ribbon School and veterans entering this program will have 100% of their tuition paid for through the 911/GI Bill. They will also receive a housing allowance. “I was unemployed and wasn’t sure how I was going to make rent. The housing allowance not only covers my bills but allows me to concentrate on my studies instead of having to work on top of going to school,” said Josh Brown, the first veteran enrolled in the program.
Furthermore, the program is flexible and allows veteran benefits to extend to family members. “I spoke with the wife of a veteran who is interested in the program for herself. Her husband already has a career and is not using the benefits, so she’ll be able to use his benefits and enroll in the certificate program,” said Dennis Riling.
For more information about the Veteran Organic Farming Program, contact Dennis Riling, firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Delaware Valley College
Delaware Valley College is an independent, multi-disciplinary college with more than 1000 acres of college land between its properties in Bucks and Montgomery Counties. Founded in 1896, it features individualized attention, small class sizes and an applied as well as theoretical approach to learning. The College offers rich programs in the sciences, as well as a variety of programs in business and the humanities, offering more than 25 undergraduate majors, five master’s programs and a variety of complementary adult education courses.