College of Agriculture & Natural Resources
Institute of Applied Agriculture

Six Reasons to Attend the Institute of Applied Agriculture

Emily Novak

Choosing a college can be a daunting task. If you are searching for a school that prides itself on preparing graduates for the real world, the Institute of Applied Agriculture (IAA) should be on your must-see list of colleges. The IAA offers curricula that provide students with agricultural and business-relevant coursework and internship experiences needed to find the perfect niche in the agriculture world today. Take it from me: I graduated in May, but landed my current job last December! Read on to discover six reasons why you should apply to the Institute of Applied Agriculture.


1. Hidden Gem. I think of the IAA as a hidden gem on the University of Maryland, College Park campus. Housed within the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, the IAA offers eight two-year certificate concentrations ranging from Sustainable Agriculture, to Agricultural Leadership and Communication, to Turfgrass Management. Each 60-credit program includes core courses covering business management and agricultural sciences. Students also complete a 320-hour internship where they practice their “ag” and real-world business skills. These experiences often lead to job opportunities and prepare graduates for careers related to their concentration.


2. Staff. The IAA has no shortage of friendly, compassionate, and knowledgeable advisors, lecturers, and staff. Coursework is designed to both challenge students and help them achieve milestones in and out of the classroom. The school-, job-, and extracurricular-related opportunities shared by IAA staff are wonderful resources. The patience presented by IAA staff allows students to be more flexible in their educational pursuits than in many traditional four-year programs.


3. Leadership opportunities. Group projects in Marketing, Business Management, Entrepreneurship, and Professional Development courses, along with skill-heavy courses like Mechanics, Computer Applications, and Animal Science allow students to stand out and practice group leadership and project management. The IAA Marketing, Outreach, Recruitment, and Engagement (MORE) Committee provided me, personally, with an opportunity to be one of two IAA students on the panel, leaving me feeling appreciated and valued.


4. Small class sizes. Being on the UMD College Park campus can be a little overwhelming, especially in large classes that can have up to 200 students. I see the IAA’s small class sizes as a huge advantage to my style of learning. Having 30 or fewer students in a class allows for time to ask questions, have discussions, and get to know one another. It allowed my Introduction to Sustainable Agriculture class to go on field trips and enjoy an end-of-the-year potluck where students did their best to locally source ingredients for their dishes. Moreover, getting to know the teachers and advisors benefits students by giving them additional resources to talk to.


5. Your résumé stands out. As mentioned earlier, the IAA offers a wealth of business-related courses that prepare students for starting their careers off on the right foot. Having this knowledge and experience on a résumé helps IAA graduates stand out when competing in the job market.


6. Balance. The final reason to apply to the IAA (although there are so many more), is the perfect ratio of hard work, fun, and education. By making the courses enjoyable through hands-on activities like planting lettuce seedlings in Crop Production and visiting the campus Farmers Market in Marketing, students can learn and have a good time while in class. In other courses, like Agricultural Entrepreneurship, the idea of having weekly group presentations was initially horrifying, but pushed me to gain the confidence I needed to speak in front of a group and helped me find friends in my groupmates.


Applying to the IAA was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Not only have I kicked off my career before graduating, but I’ve never felt prouder of myself. I encourage all who are interested in learning more about the IAA to visit, and call or email to schedule a visit!

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