BEEBE — The agriculture program at Arkansas State University-Beebe has long been considered a successful program, and now it has a truck to prove it.
The department of agriculture at ASU-Beebe was recently recognized as one of the top six Outstanding Postsecondary/Adult Agricultural Education Programs in the U.S. by the National Association of Agricultural Educators, a recognition that provides a two-year lease on a 2014 Toyota Tundra.
Each year, Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A. Inc. provides a two-year vehicle lease through a joint sponsorship with the National FFA Foundation to six NAAE members for their commitment to agricultural education.
“We didn’t get in this for fame or fortune,” said assistant professor of Agriculture Jerry Sites, speaking on behalf of himself and fellow assistant professor Chuck Wisdom. “But it is nice to be recognized. I think we really got into this because we enjoy working with ag students. We like to get them out of high school and watch them go through college and then go into a career. It’s always exciting when we see them end up with a good job.”
Sites said the department submitted at the end of last summer a portfolio of what they did on a yearly basis to be considered for the award. Sites attended the National Association of Agricultural Educators convention in Las Vegas, Nev., in December, when ASU-Beebe was announced as the Outstanding Postsecondary/Adult Agricultural Education Program for Region 2, which includes Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, New Mexico and Colorado.
“We have a long history, and agri has been a central part of our university and its growth,” ASU-Beebe Chancellor Eugene McKay said. “In all of the other awards that we’ve won, no one has given us a Toyota truck, so this may be the best award we’ve gotten.”
ASU-Beebe started in 1927 as the Junior Agricultural School of Central Arkansas. In 1931, the curriculum grew, and the school became a junior college and was then called the Junior Agricultural College of Central Arkansas. In 1955, the Junior Agricultural College of Central Arkansas became a branch campus of Arkansas State College, which is now Arkansas State University.
The ASU-Beebe Department of Agriculture program’s farm has 150 acres with cattle, a greenhouse and an orchard.
“We use the cattle for our hands-on program,” Wisdom said. “We also take them to county and state fairs to give the students experience with that.”
Additionally, Sites and Wisdom said the department’s Ag Day is a popular event that helps the school stand out. On Feb. 26, 88 schools were represented by almost 1,500 high school students who swarmed the ASU-Beebe campus to participate in Ag Day’s career-development events and contests.
The agriculture department will use the Toyota Tundra for recruiting and attending conventions, Sites said.
Staff writer Angela Spencer can be reached at (501) 244-4307 or firstname.lastname@example.org.