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New Bachelor Degree in Agricultural Business Development Offers Morrisville State College Students Many Opportunities

MORRISVILLE, N.Y. —John David “JD” Converse is spending a lot of time in the classroom learning about strategic marketing and management practices and everything that goes along with becoming an agricultural entrepreneur.

He plans to apply the skills he is gaining at Morrisville State College to start his own organic vegetable farm some day.

Converse, 32, of Syracuse, is enrolled in Morrisville State College’s new agricultural business development program, which was recently approved by the State Department of Education. The bachelor of business administration degree is the newest in Morrisville State College’s comprehensive fleet of bachelor and associate degree programs. The new degree brings the college’s total number of bachelor degrees to 13.

Converse, who already has an associate degree in agricultural business from Morrisville under his belt, worked in grocery store management for a number of years before deciding, at age 30, to go back to school.

His wife, Corinne, works full-time while he attends classes, carrying 16 credits this semester. He commutes 45 minutes each way and juggles family life with three small children waiting for him at home every night. He and his wife are expecting their fourth child in October.

“This degree will open a lot of doors for me,” Converse said. “I’m also looking into opportunities in the agri-tourism industry.”

Meghan Titus, 20, of Fabius, is also seeing the opportunities associated with the new bachelor degree.

Titus, who is completing her associate degree in agricultural business, plans to move on to the bachelor degree program. She loves horses, but would also like to get into some niche marketing and maybe do something dairy- or crop-related.

“The versatility of this new degree will allow me to be business savvy in all senses,” Titus said. “I know I want a career in agriculture, but if my mind changes as to what areas I choose, my degree will allow me to move around inside the ag business world.” 

The new bachelor degree in agricultural business development expands on business and marketing aspects of Morrisville State College’s agricultural business associate degree, enabling students interested in agriculture to combine their knowledge of production agriculture with the business and marketing practices to successfully operate consumer driven agriculture-based businesses.

“To be successful in today’s marketplace, farm managers and owners need to spend more time making decisions and developing management skills and new markets,” Sheila Marshman, assistant professor of agricultural business, said. “The agricultural business development program provides students with the management skills needed to make effective decisions and develop markets for agricultural products.”

Among the skills students in the new degree program will learn are how to transform agriculture commodities and existing natural resources into saleable products for the benefit of both producers and consumers and how to identify consumer opportunities for value-added agriculture products locally, regionally and globally, Marshman said.

Students graduating from the agricultural business development program will be prepared for employment as technical sales representatives, food brokers, accountants, agricultural market analysts, and food marketing representatives, or may work in agricultural business as financial managers, sales managers, or in local and national government agriculture offices.

“All of the business and marketing knowledge I have been exposed to here at Morrisville has given me clarity about the business environment,” Titus said. “With this knowledge, I will be ready to start my own business.”

In addition to the new agricultural business development bachelor degree, Morrisville State College offers agriculture-related bachelor degrees in dairy management, equine science and renewable resources technology.

Morrisville State College also offers associate degree programs in the following agriculture-related fields: agricultural business, agricultural mechanics, animal science—dairy, agricultural science, equine science and management, equine racing management, horticulture, aquaculture and aquatic science, environmental and natural resources conservation, and natural resources conservation.

Students who complete associate degrees in agricultural- and business-related areas at Morrisville State College can continue their education at Morrisville in the new agricultural business development bachelor degree program.

For more information about the new degree, call Sheila Marshman at 315-684-6106, the Admission Office at 1-800-258-0111 or visit the college’s Web site at

Morrisville State College offers 13 bachelor degrees and a wide variety of associate degrees and options. Considered to be one of the most technologically advanced colleges in the nation for its ThinkPad University program and wireless technology initiative, the college recently became the first in the nation to comprehensively replace landlines in residence halls with individual cellular phones. Morrisville State College was also chosen as one of the top five colleges in the nation for campus activities by Campus Activities magazine.

The Morrisville State College Norwich Campus offers associate degree programs in business, computer and office technology, liberal arts transfer, nursing and a new standalone degree in early childhood to Chenango County area residents and employers. Students may also apply coursework to other associate or bachelor degrees at the main campus.