College of Agriculture & Natural Resources
Institute of Applied Agriculture

Class of 2017 Graduation Celebrates Change

Glori Hyman
AGNR Institute of Applied Agriculture class of 2017
Congratulations, class of 2017!
Image Credit: 
Randie Hovatter

“The IAA literally changed my life,” Joyce Drake told her fellow graduates as she spoke from the heart at this year’s pre-graduation celebration on May 20, at the College Park Marriott. Drake, one of three student speakers and one of 16 IAA graduates, transformed from Baltimore City social worker to urban agriculturalist and entrepreneur. Drake is not the only career changer to graduate this year.

Meg Smolinski successfully transitioned from the art world at the Smithsonian Institutes in Washington, DC, to Volunteer Coordinator for the UMD Arboretum and Botanical Garden where she is applying her horticultural knowledge and skills every day.

Although not as dramatic, the transitions that other graduates experienced through the IAA are still significant. Ruby Fishbein and Joanna Bell became the first Agriculture Forward at Maryland (Ag Forward) students to earn their certificates in Applied Agriculture, and next year they will earn their bachelor’s degrees.

Ag Forward is an accelerated program that enables students to work on their certificate and bachelor’s degree simultaneously. Other IAA graduates opted to complete their certificates first, and then work on their bachelor’s degree. 

This year’s graduates exemplified all the opportunities offered at the IAA. Of the 16 graduates, 7 are continuing their education—5 at UMD and 2 at other institutions; the other 9 graduates already have jobs in their fields.

College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (AGNR) Dean Craig Beyrouty told the audience, “When these students leave here, they have jobs. They are hired. They are highly desired by employers. Employers come here seeking these students.”

2017 Distinguished Alumni, Byron Kline extolled the IAA for its excellence and for the willingness of its faculty to help alumni throughout their careers long after graduation.

The IAA is proud of this year’s graduates:

Joanna Bell
Sustainable Agriculture

Colby Dean
Agricultural Business Management

Tad Dinan
Golf Course Management

Joi Drake
Sustainable Agriculture

Ruby Fishbein
Sustainable Agriculture

Justin Hipp
Sustainable Agriculture

Lillian Kahl
Sustainable Agriculture

Maggie Popp
Agricultural Business Management

Ben Prigg
Sustainable Agriculture

Becky Remsberg
Agricultural Business Management

Evan Richter
Golf Course Management

Cory Schuch
Agricultural Business Management

Andrew Small
Sports Turf Management

Meg Smolinski
Ornamental Horticulture

James Thomas
Agricultural Business Management

>> View and download IAA Graduation Celebration photos.

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