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The Buzz about BAGS - UNCP’s “new” B.S. Agricultural Science Degree

Brandon Herron, Intern at the Campus Garden & Apiary, weeds the echinacea bed.

PN/Photo Stephanie Sellers.

UNCP now offers a Bachelor of Science with an emphasis in agricultural science. Electives include courses covering animal husbandry, plant cropping, niche farming- including beekeeping, food systems with a focus on environmental laws and regulations, sustainable agriculture and agricultural technology. The program uses immersion for real-life experience to take to the job market upon graduation. The program will use the Campus Garden and Apiary, nearby farms and Native American groups that share knowledge bases in medicinal plants. The university is working on grants to obtain equipment, lab instruments and land for a large-scale industrial hemp program to integrate with the new B.S. program, Bachelor’s of Agricultural Science. “Techniques in Horticulture,” available in Spring 2020, is the new program’s first course. This course teaches basic botanical concepts such as morphology, anatomy, taxonomy, physiology, genetics and propagation. It also covers the history of horticulture and the evolution of horticulture as an industry. Dr. Bryan K. Sales, an assistant biology professor is excited to bring horticulture to UNCP. Students are encouraged to volunteer at the Campus Garden and Apiary. A student does not need to be enrolled in a biology program to participate. Apply through the Science Education Club under Dr. Rita Hagevik. Students without technological and equipment experience will be trained. The program is part of UNCP Serve which offers financial rewards and service honors upon graduation. “One student overcame her fear of being outdoors and her depression by volunteering at the garden. Now she is in PA school and says it was a life- changing experience,” said Dr. Rita Hagevik. This year’s intern at the Campus Garden and Apiary is a future marine biologist, Brandon Herron. “The Campus Garden and Apiary is open for students who would like to expand their knowledge base on gardening, bees and nature. No experience is required. A major focus is promoting the pollinator species. It is a great place to try out gardening and enjoy fellowship,” said Hagevik. “Students first volunteer through the UNCP Serve site to see if they will like the work. Then they can become a Garden Intern and then can become a Garden Manager. The Science Education club supports the project too,” said Hagevik. Herron pointed at a beehive behind the warning sign, “We call that one the mean hive. They are just trying to protect themselves. In cold weather, bees are less active and confine themselves inside the hives. When disturbed, they react defensively.” The apiary has native bees, wild bees and honeybees. It also has three types of hives, the Australian Flow Hive, the Top Bar Hive and the traditional Langstroth Hive. A future beekeeping workshop is planned and will be open to the public. Dates will be listed on the Campus Garden and Apiary website.

To purchase honey from the campus apiary, contact Timothy Hinton at tjh023@

The entire process is operated on campus and they even have their own centrifuge to separate the honey from the comb. With Christmas approaching, buying honey products from the university is a great way to demonstrate pride for UNCP.

UNCP’s Campus Garden & Apiary grows a variety of pollinator attracting plants for the bees. It also grows milkweed; which monarch butterflies need to survive. It is a food source, an egg-nesting source, and provides predator deterrence. Monarchs consume milkweed toxins, which is poisonous to most species, and it stays in their system, so when birds and other small predators eat monarchs, they become ill and thus, avoid monarchs in the future.

The garden features sunflowers, pollinator crops, including winter cover crops of red and white varieties of clover, and seasonal vegetables. Volunteers get to enjoy growing the crops and including the healthy vegetables in their diets. The garden includes sustainable practices with compost and has a tieredgarden system on display.

As part of their community outreach, UNCP’s Department of Biology offers Kids in the Garden Program. Middle and high school students learn a variety of topics including STEM education through immersion, at no cost. Applications for the year-round program are on the UNCP Website.

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