Students learn business and entrepreneurial skills through the Kohl Centre

Chelsea Abbott, a junior majoring in dairy science from Fairfield, Vermont, presents a heifer at the Dairy Showcase. The Dairy Showcase was an event that students assessed for the Kohl Centre experience this semester.

Chelsea Abbott, a junior majoring in dairy science from Fairfield, Vermont, presents a heifer at the Dairy Showcase. The Dairy Showcase was an event that students assessed for the Kohl Centre experience this semester.

By Amy Loeffler 

The Kohl Centre Experiential Learning course may be the only program of its kind in the country that allows undergraduates to work alongside land-grant Extension agents and specialists to address problems faced by Virginia’s citizens and agricultural entrepreneurs.

Students recently evaluated New River Valley agritourism venues and investigated public interest in and local business owner support for an on-campus market that features food and fiber products produced by student-run enterprises.

“It is increasingly apparent that our students need to have applied research experiences and the opportunity to build their own networks to achieve workplace success and add value to their classroom learning,” said Kim Morgan, assistant professor of agricultural and applied economics.

During the Kohl Centre course, project teams craft integrated solutions related to market, production, human resource, and legal, and financial risks faced by clientele. Students work directly with Kohl Centre clients across a range of diverse subjects involving a variety of disciplinary expertise.

At the end of each project, student teams publish a Virginia Cooperative Extension fact sheet to inform statewide audiences about real-world applications resulting from their research.

“The agriculture industry is demanding students who have practical, hands-on experience necessary to address the varied responsibilities that fall on agribusinesses,” said Katie Frazier, president of the Virginia Agribusiness Council. “The education and real-world experiences that the Kohl Centre provides not only give students this skill set, but also help develop the next generation of agricultural leaders in Virginia and beyond.”

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