The Ministry of Advanced Education will provide Thompson Rivers University with one-time funding of $154,000 to deliver a proposed new Sustainable Ranching Enterprise Diploma program in Williams Lake.
“Ranching is a way of life in and around this area and it is important that families can access the new program that supports farming and the region,” said Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett. “The program was created by farmers to support their needs. Students will be able to stay close to home during their studies in order to support their farms and families.”
It addresses the needs of the local ranching environment with a focus on sustainable management of natural resources and building resilience into ranching enterprises both at home and abroad. An advisory committee of ranching representatives from the Cariboo region ensured the program was built by industry, for industry.
“As our region’s economy continues to evolve, we need the flexibility to be successful by responding to changes in ranching,” said Cariboo North MLA Coralee Oakes. “The critical element is ensuring that we are responsive to the needs of industry to ensure that ranching continues to have a strong future in the Cariboo.”
The ministry’s contribution will support the initial delivery of the first year of the diploma program, which is expected to start in Williams Lake in 2016.
“I thank the Government of British Columbia for funding this important program which acknowledges tried and true practices while looking to the future of ranching and the communities this industry serves,” said TRU President and Vice-Chancellor Alan Shaver. “This 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.”
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.
“We are grateful to the Provincial Government for recognizing the need for this applied agricultural program in the Cariboo–Chilcotin,” said Dr. Ray Sanders, Executive Director, Williams Lake Campus. “Local ranchers are excited that the program will examine the importance of conducting business in a way that ensures environmental sustainability, by examining in depth the principles of maintaining soil and water health, living with wildlife and respecting all aspects of biological diversity.”
Considerable attention is 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.
Dr. Ray Sanders
TRU Williams Lake