CASNR articulation agreements help students, boost workforce development

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CASNR articulation agreements help students, boost workforce development

Color portrait of Luz Schafersman
Tyler Quick | Nebraska Extension
The articulation agreement between the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources and Northeast Community College enabled Luz Schafersman to transfer credits so she could pursue a bachelor's degree in applied science at Nebraska. “The interaction, the involvement, the communication have been really amazing” during her UNL studies, Schafersman said.

Luz Schafersman juggles big duties as a farm wife, working mom and part-time student in Hooper, Nebraska. While pursuing a two-year degree at Northeast Community College in 2021, she asked an important question about her career goals.

The natural resources conservation profession she decided to pursue requires a four-year degree. So, she wondered, does the University of Nebraska–Lincoln provide opportunities to pursue a degree using remote instruction and receiving credit for previous two-year studies?

She was relieved to find that the answer is “yes.” After two years of online instruction with Husker faculty, she is set to graduate May 18 with a Bachelor of Science in Applied Science.

This opportunity was made possible, she said, through innovative academic pathways supported by articulation agreements between the university’s College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources and most Nebraska state colleges, community colleges and the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture.

Under CASNR’s A to B Program, students can transfer credits and choose an instructional path that aligns with their career aspirations. They complete their degree on a schedule that works best for them. CASNR created the Bachelor of Science in Applied Science degree to increase access and opportunities.

“I truly credit CASNR for the ability to tailor your educational experience to fit your need,” Schafersman said. “It’s really wonderful.

“Not every person is one-size-fits-all. Everyone has different schedules, and I appreciate that CASNR worked with me on that so I could take as many courses as I needed and be able to graduate on time.”

Through the articulation agreements, CASNR and its education partners draw on their collective strengths to boost Nebraska workforce development.

The Northeast Nebraska Ag and Natural Resources Education Compact “leverages the collective efforts of the partners to serve students,” said Charlene Widener, vice president of educational services at Northeast Community College.

The collaborative approach “assists Northeast Community College students with articulation of credit as they transfer to CASNR, leading to reduced time to degree and earlier entry into the workforce.”

This statewide collaboration helps the more than 300,000 Nebraskans who have earned some academic credits but have no postsecondary certificate or degree. Nebraskans in the workforce who have an associate’s degree can boost their career advancement by pursuing a University of Nebraska–Lincoln bachelor’s degree while continuing to work.

“We think a lot about the continuum of learners and helping learners have an opportunity no matter where they are in their journey,” said Tiffany Heng-Moss, dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources.

A partnership being developed between CASNR and NCTA will provide still another opportunity. CASNR students who want to gain practical, hands-on ag experience at NCTA’s facilities will be able to use a reverse-transfer option to include study at the campus in Curtis.

“We are excited about what the reverse transfer will do for not only NCTA students, but also students working toward a bachelor’s degree in CASNR who want to leverage experiential learning opportunities from NCTA,” said Larry Gossen, dean of the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture.

“NCTA works to build relationships with many industries throughout Nebraska,” said Jennifer McConville, NCTA associate dean. “Through these relationships, these employees value the skills acquired through NCTA programs.”

Heng-Moss said: “We have demonstrated that we put students first, in recognizing that students have these different starting points and how we can leverage the strengths across institutions to meet students’ needs.”

Schafersman said she was helped greatly by the support from multiple CASNR team members, including her academic adviser Katie Forrest. Marybeth Helmink coordinates CASNR’s transfer program.

“They were incredibly helpful,” Schafersman said. “They gave me so much information about what to expect as a full-time student and an online student.”

Another plus was the ease of use of CASNR’s online instruction. Schafersman said it is very interactive.

“The instructors do a really good job trying to connect with their students and having students connect with each other,” she said. “The interaction, the involvement, the communication have been really amazing.”

CASNR has articulation agreements with NCTA, Chadron State College, Wayne State College and these Nebraska community colleges: Central, Metropolitan, Mid-Plains, Nebraska Indian, Northeast, Southeast and Western.

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