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New UF Degree Program Starts August 24 In Ft. Pierce

Karen Meisenheimer

Milton Tignor (561) 468-3922

FORT PIERCE—Gator Country has expanded south with university courses slated to begin August 24 in Fort Pierce for students seeking a University of Florida agricultural degree.

The new teaching program at UF’s Indian River Research and Education Center in partnership with Florida Atlantic University and community colleges throughout the state will allow students to earn a bachelor of science (BS) degree in horticulture or agribusiness management without leaving the Treasure Coast.

“We will provide a four-year degree program locally,” said Milton Tignor, the center’s undergraduate coordinator. “Now students who can’t leave their families or jobs can receive the same quality education without having to relocate to Gainesville.”

The research and education center, part of UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS), will offer courses to both degree seeking and non-degree seeking students, Tignor said.

To be eligible for the bachelor’s program, students must have an associate of arts degree from a community college then submit an application to the university.

FAU and Florida’s community colleges are working with UF to make sure students have the necessary lower division courses to move into the degree program.

The center will hire eight new UF/IFAS faculty, and construction of a $3.7 million teaching facility will begin this year with completion planned for September 2000. Classes this fall will be held in an existing building at the center, which is equipped with classrooms and research/teaching labs.

Students will pay UF tuition prices, can apply for College of Agriculture scholarships and will receive personalized academic advisement and career counseling. Those enrolled full time will be eligible to the same perks as students in Gainesville, such as state university library privileges and student-priced football tickets.

“Obviously there won’t be the same social opportunities as those at the main campus,” Tignor said. “But those who want, can take advantage of the benefits of being a UF student.”

To further link the Fort Pierce campus to the main campus, the center has installed an interactive digital video system that will allow classes not offered locally to be broadcast live from Gainesville and other UF/IFAS locations around the state.

“If we don’t have the expertise here, it can be sent down from Gainesville through the distant education program,” Tignor said. “Students can interact with the professor, asking and answering questions in real time.”

Tignor said the program is open also to those not seeking a degree, but simply want to update their agricultural knowledge. Classes offered this fall include citrus culture, entomology, plant pathology, agricultural marketing, food and resource economics and agricultural computer applications.

The UF/IFAS Indian River Research and Education Center, located on South Rock Road, was established in 1947 to serve the research needs of Florida with special emphasis on the five-county area comprising St. Lucie, Okeechobee, Martin, Indian River and Brevard counties.

For more information or a UF application, call the center at (561)468-3922.