AMHERST, Mass. - The stage at Bowker Auditorium at the University of Massachusetts Amherst was decorated with flowers for the 82nd Commencement of the Stockbridge School of Agriculture this afternoon, May 22. Associate degrees were conferred on 100 students in six majors: arboriculture and park management, equine industrie,; fruit and vegetable crops, horticulture, landscape contracting, and turfgrass management.
In remarks to the graduates, Chancellor John V. Lombardi told the Class of 2004 that the Stockbridge School of Agriculture plays a special role at the University. “The land-grant institution at UMass Amherst isn’t just a rhetorical device, it’s a living thing. For us, you are the symbol of our heritage and you keep it alive.”
Keynote speaker Russell Davenport, a member of the Stockbridge Class of 1951, who is a family farmer in Shelburne and has long participated in state agricultural policy, told the graduates that the basic rules of agricultural work remain virtually unchanged over time. “Agriculture is the ability to work with the elements of Mother Nature – soil, air, water, and sunshine,” Davenport said. And while new technology can be helpful, it’s important to be faithful to the fundamentals. He also called on the graduates to take time for commitments to friends and families, and to be true to the values learned at the Stockbridge School. “With best wishes, go on your way with happiness,” he told the group.
Nancy L. Garrabrants, UMass alumna and director of the Stockbridge School, presided at the ceremonies. Cleve E. Willis, dean of the College of Natural Resources and the Environment, told the graduates they will all remember some special bond with a friend or faculty member in years to come. “The first secret I’ll tell you is that you will remember someone special who invested in you,” Willis said. “The second secret is that they will remember you.” He urged the graduates to stay in touch with the school and their favorite faculty members.
Garrabrants told the graduates that although they have already accomplished much, their lives will be even busier and more full of challenges in years to come. “Remember, the roots of your professional career are here at the Stockbridge School,” she said.