Soldiers to Agriculture
by Lis Meyer
IPPS Southern Region is about to get a whole new kind of student member! Student membership has been extended to students enrolled in the Soldier to Agriculture (STAG) program, a program that represents a partnership between NC State University and Fort Bragg in Fayetteville, NC. This program is a career training course that Ft. Bragg offers for soldiers getting ready to transition out of the military who are interested in agriculture-related careers. It runs on a 6-week cycle, and the classes during those six weeks are taught by a mix of NC State faculty, extension agents, and local industry representatives. You can read more about it here if you like: https://cals.ncsu.edu/agricultural-institute/about/veterans/soldier-to-agriculture-program/
The program has been running for a little over two years now, and there's a long waiting list for soldiers wanting to be in the program (they are only equipped to take about 15 students for each 6-week session). In general, about 150 students go through the program each year. I have begun teaching a 1-2 day class as part of the program on plant propagation, and the response has been enthusiastic. A lot of the students in the course have a desire to learn more about this area of expertise, and many of them have very limited or no experience with our industry. It has been my goal through teaching to introduce them to the career opportunities available in horticulture, as well as plant propagation techniques that will be useful to those planning to start their own businesses.
I always talk about IPPS and the benefits of this organization when I teach STAG. The benefits for both the students in STAG and for our chapter of IPPS are numerous. The students receive a chance to participate in and be exposed to IPPS and to have mentors in the organization at a time when they are making important career choices. For IPPS, STAG can be an effective recruitment tool as it has been for NC State. Once they see the value of our organization through a free student membership, I'm confident that they will wish to remain part of this excellent group of professionals. Thanks so much from both myself and our students for making this opportunity possible!