“Livestock judging in 4-H and FFA was the foundation that allowed me to go to Connors State College and then to Oklahoma State University on a livestock judging scholarship. We will be the only two-year college offering this opportunity in Arkansas, which opens new opportunities for local and in-state students.” -- Kate Miller2022-02-21 00:00:00
[February 21, 2022| Chancellor Dr. Phillip Wilson has announced that beginning in Fall 2022, the University of Arkansas Rich Mountain will establish a two-year agriculture program offering course work in animal sciences, agriculture business, and a pre-veterinarian track. With that addition will be the opportunity for incoming freshman to be on a traveling livestock judging team that will compete nationally.
Wilson credited the addition of Vice-Chancellor of Finance Kate Miller for fostering the idea. “Kate came to us last fall and hit the ground running, not only in her vice-chancellor role, but in developing this program. She competed in livestock judging throughout high school and in college. It is clearly her passion. The concept of an agriculture program has been on the table before but Kate developed the business plan to make it happen.”
Wilson explained that this is another benefit of the college’s expansion with athletics and on-campus housing. “The addition of athletics and housing was a calculated growth strategy that now ultimately funds the ability for us to grow our academic programs; thereby, creating more opportunities for our students and graduates.”
Dr. Krystal Thrailkill, Vice-Chancellor of Academic Affairs, explained that the program at UARM is pending official approval from the Arkansas Department of Higher Education. She did add that an agreement has been reached that will allow the Associates of Arts program developed by UARM to be transferrable to the Bumpers College at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville for students to earn their bachelor’s degree. Eligible students transferring from UARM to Fayetteville can receive the Arkansas Transfer Achievement Scholarship, which allows them to continue to pay the UARM tuition rate while attending UA Fayetteville.
Livestock judging is the process of evaluating, selecting, placing, and learning the various livestock species. UARM will have both a freshmen (novice) team and a sophomore (pro) team.
Members of the agri community are very supportive of the new program. Farm Credit of Western Arkansas Vice-President and Branch Manager Rex Dollar commented, “This is very exciting news, not only for UARM, Mena and Polk County, but also for our region of the state! It's great to see these additional opportunities for our youth that have an interest in the agricultural sector and the life skills that come as a result of programs like the livestock judging. I could not be more excited about the doors that this can open for those interested in pursuing additional education in the area of agriculture.”
Tony Hooper, Agency Manager at Polk County Farm Bureau, expressed his agency’s support of students pursuing ag degrees, “We here at Polk County Farm Bureau are very excited to find out about the Agriculture programs that will soon be offered at UA Rich Mountain. This will allow many new underclassmen the opportunity to complete their first two years at a much smaller campus, as well as our local students, the ability to live at home until their junior year, while pursuing an ag degree. Locally, Farm Bureau awards five scholarships per year to graduating seniors, from the three school districts here in the county, but show favoritism towards those that are pursuing an agricultural degree of some sort. Agriculture is Arkansas’ largest industry by far, and Arkansas Farm Bureau is agriculture’s biggest supporter both on the state and national levels. Polk County 4H and FFA programs have long been considered some of the best and most successful in the state and we look forward to the progression of this new program and watching how its livestock judging teams compete on both the state and national levels.”
Hooper continued, “We commend Dr. Wilson, Kate, and all the staff at UA Rich Mountain for bringing this program to our local area and the new students it will bring to Mena. Becoming a part of the UA System has proven to be a very positive move for our local area and we look forward to what the future holds at UA Rich Mountain.”
Miller is enthusiastic about the start of a judging program. As a Mena High School graduate, she credits her time in local 4-H and FFA with opening doors for scholarship opportunities. “Livestock judging in 4-H and FFA was the foundation that allowed me to go to Connors State College and then to Oklahoma State University on a livestock judging scholarship. We will be the only two-year college offering this opportunity in Arkansas, which opens new opportunities for local and in-state students.”
Miller said that the search will soon begin for a full-time livestock program manager that will travel with the teams to competitions nationally.
Student interested in the program should contact Kate Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 479.394.7622 ext. 1500.