PARKERSBURG - West Virginia University at Parkersburg has received $440,000 to launch two new programs.
The college announced Friday it had received two grants from the Community and Technical College System of West Virginia (CTCS). With funding approved, the college will introduce associate of applied science degree programs in diversified agriculture and culinary arts.
Rhonda Tracy, senior vice president for academic affairs for WVU-P, said the two programs will complement one another and there are plans to integrate portions of both programs.
The agricultural program will provide students with technical knowledge in areas of plant sciences, landscaping, field crop rotation and agricultural economics and business strategies. The grant money will be used to hire a full-time instructor to coordinate the program and to purchase equipment to establish the program's five-acre outdoor learning lab, which will be located on the main campus.
"Our region needs more food producers to meet the increasing demand for locally grown foods," Tracy said. "We researched job trends and potential industry wages and realized the tremendous impact this program would have on area residents."
Officials estimate a 10 percent increase in raising and selling local foods with no preservatives within WVU-P's seven-county service area would have an economic impact of nearly $5.5 million annually.
The culinary arts program, which will be launched in WVU-P's new downtown center, will offer a blend of traditional classroom and online courses, as well as feature foods grown in the agricultural program.
The curriculum will include all phases of cooking and provide students with a local and more affordable option for culinary arts education. The downtown center will feature a complete commercial kitchen for student training and for rent by local culinary businesses.
"Area chefs and businesses expressed the need for a culinary arts program to provide students with the necessary skills to contribute to the growing restaurant industry," Tracy said. "We are pleased to now have the opportunity to fulfill that need."