UH West Oʻahu students working with beehives

UH Hilo student Maria McCarthy performs vegetative propagation on ornamental plants.

The University of Hawaiʻi has two of the top five sustainable agriculture degree programs in the nation. UH West Oʻahu’s Sustainable Community Food Systems (SCFS) program and UH Hilo’s bachelor of science in tropical plant sciences and agroecology are ranked second and fourth, respectively, for delivering higher education in sustainable agriculture at an affordable price.

CollegeValuesOnline.com ranked the top 20 Sustainable Agriculture Degree Programs by net price and found only one school, California State University, Stanislaus, that beat UH West Oʻahu in the affordability ranking.

Students pursuing a bachelor of applied science degree at UH West Oʻahu with a concentration in Sustainable Community Food Systems pay a net price of $7,820 annually, said CollegeValuesOnline.com, which reviewed 54 U.S. colleges for affordability in sustainable agriculture and food systems programming.

“A key guiding principle at UHWO is mālama ʻāina. We value environmental responsibility that nurtures our people and our places,” said UH West Oʻahu Chancellor Maenette Benham. “The SCFS program leads our effort to ensure a transdisciplinary experience for all our students but is also actively engaged in integrating the communities we serve in the process of learning, problem solving and community transformation.”

The SCFS concentration is designed to prepare students for jobs in the sustainable food and agriculture sector in the state of Hawaiʻi and elsewhere. The program provides a multi-disciplinary, experiential and applied education for developing student comprehension of key ecological and social issues regarding agricultural and food systems.

CollegeValuesOnline.com said UH Hilo “offers the unique angle of tropical plant sciences for those wishing to labor in tropical zones. At just $10,000 annual net price, students can prepare themselves for a great diversity of careers in the tropical context, whether government or private sector.”

Norman Arancon, UH Hilo associate professor of horticulture, said, “Our program aims to produce leaders in agriculture who will bear the ideals of sustainable development and will contribute to the resilience of tropical island food and energy systems through innovative ideas and practices that are ecologically sound, economically viable and culturally sensitive as we face continuing challenges at the local and global level. We take pride in our hands-on educational approach that makes the most of our unique location.”

UH Hilo’s tropical plant science and agroecology specialty provides opportunities for students interested in tropical crop science or a plant-related field. Graduates can get a job with private enterprises or government agencies associated with conservation and environmental protection, crop production, plant pest control, plant ecology and plant and soil analyses and other farm services agribusinesses.

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