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U. of Md. animal sciences department highly ranked

December 11, 2007|By JEFF SEMLER

Regular readers of this column know that the University of Maryland Cooperative Extension is part of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources of the state's land grant university in College Park. Sadly, that ends most people's knowledge.

Oh don't get me wrong; they can tell you that the Lady Terrapins won the national championship in basketball and field hockey in the last several years. They probably also know that the Terps will be playing in the Emerald Bowl against the Beavers of Oregon State. However, many people are less familiar with the University's academic prowess which is odd, since after all, education is the point of an institution of higher education.

Well, my news today is doubly good for me since I am an employee of the university and I hold two degrees in animal science. The Department of Animal and Avian Sciences at the University of Maryland has been ranked among the Top 10 animal sciences departments in the nation in the 2007 rankings published in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

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"This is great news to us and something that we all should take pride in," department chair Tom Porter remarked recently. "This particular ranking system is based on faculty research productivity and considers publications, citations, grants and awards in its ranking of the departments in the nation."

Porter went on to say, "While teaching and outreach accomplishments are notable areas missing from this system, placement of our department in the Top 10 is a great reflection on our research program. We have invested much in our research program in recent years, and this effort has paid off in this national recognition."

If you think agriculture is just about farming, Maryland has got a lot to show you.

While production agriculture is important, agriculture and natural resources is about balance: learning to produce healthy animal and plant products while using sound scientific principles that respect the environment. University of Maryland students and faculty are concerned with quality of life, stewardship of natural resources, and economic competitiveness in world markets.

Agriculture is Maryland's No.1 industry, and more than 70 percent of the work in agriculture and natural resources focuses on environmental issues. Nationally, 18 percent of the working population is involved in food and fiber processing industries, also considered part of the agriculture field. At the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, we emphasize scientific research and the use of new technology to address national and international challenges such as Avian Influenza or bioterrorism.

As a student, you'll have the chance to work with faculty on projects concerning bacterial contamination of foods or pollution runoff in the Chesapeake Bay region. You can study irrigation or how to design and construct sports turf. Maybe you'll even spend a summer working on landscape designs or economic and ecological projects in rural Costa Rica.

As an Animal Sciences student you could prepare for Vet School or Equine Management or any number of careers. Charlotte Sanford-Crane from Elkton, Md., relates, "I knew I wanted to be a veterinarian when I was in high school and was attracted by the first-class curriculum and the opportunities available at the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. I received a scholarship, which has allowed me to focus on my studies without worrying about how I'm going to pay for them. Vet school is extremely expensive, and this scholarship means that I will be better able to afford it."

She goes on to say, "I've been surprised by the number of students who do not come from a farming background. I thought everyone would be from a farm family, like me; however, that has not been the case. The students are very diverse, hailing from a wide variety of areas, with numerous experiences different than my own."

Kimberly Lechlider said, "I was attracted to the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources because I grew up with a very strong agricultural background. Both sides of my family own farm operations in Montgomery County, and agriculture is something that I wanted to continue to be active in. After looking into colleges, I had the opportunity to meet some of the staff at the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. They were very helpful and kind, so why wouldn't I choose Maryland? Everyone told me how hard it is to find a large university with faculty and staff that are willing to really work with their students. But here I feel like I can go to anyone and ask a question."

Middletown, Md., native T.J. Remsberg shares, "Even though the University of Maryland is a large university, I love the close-knit atmosphere in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Faculty members are always available to discuss your curriculum and career goals."

As these young people relate the University of Maryland is more than basketball and football it is also about learning. For more information for interested students, surf by http://agnr.umd.edu/pro spective/index.cfm for more information or give me a call.

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