A unique and new ranching program expected to begin in January 2016 at Thompson Rivers University in Williams Lake received $154,000 from the province this week.
The funds will go toward developing curriculum, said TRU director Dr. Ray Sanders, adding the university is also seeking money from other sources to start the program.
“It should be self-supporting with tuition after that,” Sanders said.
Sanders credited Cariboo rancher and former MLA David Zirnhelt for working with the Cariboo Cattlemen’s Association to make the program happen.
“David really pushed for it,” Sanders said. “I’m really excited about the program because we at TRU in Williams Lake are trying to better meet the needs of employers in the area.”
Developing the sustainable ranching program is a first step toward meeting that goal, he added.
On announcing the funding Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna said with ranching being a way of life in the region, it is important that families can access the new program that supports farming and the region.
“The program was created by farmers to support their needs,” Barnett said. “Students will be able to stay close to home during their studies in order to support their farms and families.”
TRU President and Vice-Chancellor Alan Shaver said the program will realize three of TRU’s strategic priorities: increasing sustainability, increasing research capacity and increasing the entrepreneurial capacity of our students and communities.
“Our students’ success will help ranching to evolve and thrive in the new global market,” Shaver added.
Flexible course modules balance academic study with applied work on a farm or ranch, in shorter blocks than the traditional fourth-month semester to suit the timetables of mature learners.
After the mandatory first two modules — Sustainable Enterprise and Environmental Sustainability — which take 12 weeks to complete, students can pick and choose additional modules to study at their own pace and complete the diploma.
A research project in each year of the program will provide experience with business plan development and with operations management planning.
Considerable attention will be devoted to the locally relevant challenges of beef and sheep production and the provisioning of food through winter periods.
This funding supports TRU to continue to provide high quality education, ensuring students have the skills required to meet the demands of our growing economy.
– With files from TRU