BELIVILE, SICK – With the new program director, New Dean and New Partnership, the University of Southern Illinois in Belleville and Carbondale are looking in new directions.
Everything we do at SIU, especially with farming, should have two to three goals. It has to be versatile, ”said Chris Vick, program director at SIU University Farms.
Vick is new to the job for 14 months as program director. He has been with the SIU since 1995 as a student worker on the same farms he controls.
The SIU agricultural program itself has undergone significant changes in a short period of time. The College of Agriculture has merged with the College of Science.
Eric Brevic, of Dickinson State University in Dakota, was named the next dean of SIU College of Life, Agriculture and Physical Sciences in June.
Vick emphasizes that the mission of SIU farms has not changed.
“The purpose of the farm is recruitment, retention and training – this is our mission,” he said.
But how that mission is accomplished and financially, in a different way, in a sustainable way, in different forms, is given priority.
“We all know – and this is all the university farms in the state.
Part of the mission is to make the farms more accessible to the community through fundraising events to support the farms.
In June, the SIU equine science program and students spent two weeks shouting “Saddle Up!” You are hosted. They teach children about horses as well as driving lessons as part of the experience.
Vick says: “In the autumn, we probably have dinner in the garbage.
A new addition to SIU farms is a newly opened and multi-purpose sustainable farm.
“We call this sustainable food waste from the dining halls that go to our composting center. We have a fertilizer center registered with the Illinois EP on farms. That food waste goes to the composting center and a high-nutrient content is mixed with horse manure to make fertilizer. That fertilizer goes back to the dining room where we grow vegetables, ”says Vick.
Vick said another goal of sustainable agriculture is accessibility and community education and student recruitment.
“Another aspect of sustainable agriculture that we hope to grow is trying to engage with the community here,” says Vick.
Attracting potential students through such programs can be key to increasing the number of students in the AG program.
“If we want more students, we have to make these children interested in farming. A.D. When I came to school in 1995, most of the children were from the farm. That has changed. That is no longer the case. We have children who are involved in FFA, 4-H, they are interested in ag, they have ag project, maybe they are raising chickens, maybe they have pigs or maybe they have shown pigs, maybe they have shown cows, but the family is one or two generations from the farm. Or, they probably don’t have a farm background at all. It’s just something that attracts them. We know we have a hard time finding staff. We see this as a way to bring in people who are interested in gardening, urban gardening, and so on. ”
In addition to the Science Science Program and the Horse Center, the farm includes a pig center, a bull center, a garden research center, a tree improvement center and a forest development program, as well as two agricultural research centers in Bevelville and Carbondale.
The sustainable farm feeds SIU students when classes begin in the fall.
“We have a farm shop in a student center,” says Vick.
Students with disabilities can obtain vouchers from the Student Center’s Saluki Food Store and those vouchers can be purchased at the SIU Farm Store.
“We are thrilled to have students learn about the grocery store and fresh fruits and vegetables this fall,” Vick said.
In addition to providing the SIU’s sustainable farming shop, it also sends the produce to SIU’s dining halls and student centers for use in the market and in the salad bar.