Celebrating Its Roots: UMass Amherst Honors Stockbridge School of Agriculture Graduates
AMHERST, Mass. – At the commencement for the Stockbridge School of Agriculture at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, speakers told graduates how much the world needs them at the forefront in the fight against climate change and as leaders in the sustainability movement. The graduates were also reminded of the close-knit community they continue as Stockbridge alumni. The students in five majors received associate of science degrees in Bowker Auditorium today.
Degrees were awarded to graduates in arboriculture and community forest management, landscape contracting, sustainable food and farming, sustainable horticulture and turfgrass management. The Massachusetts Agricultural College graduated its first class in 1871, and more than 150 years later the Stockbridge School of Agriculture continues to be an agricultural leader.
Baoshan Xing, director of the Stockbridge School, presided over the ceremony and delivered welcoming remarks. Remarks were also delivered by UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy and Tricia Serio, dean of the College of Natural Sciences.
“The challenges posed by climate change will require everyone’s efforts, but you are in a special position to contribute to your own knowledge, training and skills to the survival of the planet, and all of its people,” Xing said. “Your Stockbridge degree, whether in arboriculture, horticulture, or plant and soil sciences, sets you apart as an expert. With time and experience, your own work in landscaping, in turfgrass management and sustainable food and farming will establish your roles, as stewards of the land around you.”
Subbaswamy pointed out that the Stockbridge Class of 2022 is 100% employed, with Stockbridge-educated graduates being in high demand due to their practical, hands-on training.
“And given the environmental and agricultural challenges of our times, your talent and revolutionary spirit is more critical than ever,” he said. “For just as Stockbridge has evolved for nearly 160 years to meet the issues of the day, now you are agricultural leaders charged with innovating and implementing a more sustainable future. As you engage in professional activities that contribute directly to the stewardship of soil, air and water, your work advances a healthy ecological balance on the planet.”
In her remarks to the 19 graduates, Serio highlighted the impact that Stockbridge graduates make on their communities and the commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Serio said, “More than 75 percent of Stockbridge students conduct an internship or other field work by the time they graduate. And 90 percent of Stockbridge graduates remain in Massachusetts and contribute to over $4 billion in economic impact through our green industries.”
Serio also noted that during the COVID-19 pandemic, when supply chains collapsed and movement was restricted, local farms and green spaces were a saving grace. “This renewed appreciation, along with the aging workforce in the green industries, make your choice to pursue a degree from the Stockbridge School of Agriculture all the more important to our society,” she noted.