AMHERST, Mass. - At the 89th commencement for the Stockbridge School of Agriculture at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, speakers told graduates they will become stewards of the world through their chosen professions as well as the latest addition to a long standing family of graduates who support each other. The 82 students in six majors received associate of science degrees in Bowker Auditorium today.
Degrees were awarded to 18 graduates in arboriculture and community forest management, four in equine industries, six in fruit and vegetable crops, 11 in horticulture, 19 in landscape contracting and 24 in turfgrass management.
William L. Mitchell, director of the Stockbridge School, presided at the ceremony with Robert C. Holub, UMass Amherst chancellor, UMass President Jack M. Wilson, and Steve Goodwin, dean of the College of Natural Sciences. In his remarks to the graduates, Goodwin said they will be going out into a world where there is a critical need for professionals to create and maintain sustainable farms, sustainable foods and a sustainable landscape. He also urged the graduates to take a moment amid their celebrations to thank parents, friends and others who supported them in reaching their goals.
Holub told the graduates the school’s roots trace back to the founding of the university, which was originally called Massachusetts Agricultural College. Holub said even in its early days, the Stockbridge School had a tradition of enduring connections among its graduates. "They kept in touch by letter and visited one another at their farms, dairies and greenhouses throughout the Northeast. Today, Stockbridge alumni stay in contact, golf together, form business partnerships, give back to the alma mater and remain friends for life."
Holub also noted that UMass Amherst is in the forefront of the green movement and is one of the nation’s leading universities in green energy technology and environmentally friendly policies. The Stockbridge School, he told the graduates, plays a key role in those accomplishments.
Wilson told the graduates he expects them to do what all previous classes from the Stockbridge School have done: work hard and leave an enduring mark on the world.
Scott J. Soares, state commissioner of agriculture and an alumnus of UMass Dartmouth, was the guest speaker. He told the graduates he was pleased to be talking to an audience that didn’t have to be reminded there are still farms in Massachusetts. Soares also told the graduates that Massachusetts maintains consistently high national rankings for protecting open space and is sixth in the nation in the number of farmer’s markets. He offered the graduates three related pieces of advice. "Be a good listerner; be a good partner, and be a seeker of opportunity," Soares told them.