people observing field irrigation demonstration

Cutting Edge Curriculum

The College of Agricultural Sciences is committed to a culture of curricular innovation that provides greater access to diverse learners, creates successful career pathways and promotes lifelong learning while meeting the workforce and economic needs of the communities we serve.

Featured Programs

Upskilling | Livestock Business Management Major | Minor in Agricultural Data Science


As global agriculture and food production evolves, we must also continuously adapt and improve our approach to advancing knowledge and building applicable skills among current and future industry members.

4.6% of Colorado GDP is housed within the agrifood industries (195,000 jobs), making this industry a significant contributor to our state’s economy and a foundational component of our rural communities. Yet, there is a well-documented degree-employment gap in agrifood careers. In the past 5 years, 39% of agricultural jobs filled with grads from other majors.

The College’s Upskilling initiative seeks to alleviate traditional barriers to education through innovative, agile micro credentialing solutions that meet learners where they are, linking credentials and pathway development to employers and career opportunities.

Upskilling Critical Training Needs

Working with industry partners and stakeholders in rural communities, four initial badge content areas were identified as critical needs for Colorado agriculture and rural communities, as well as important skills/knowledge base for workforce development:

field irrigation system

Irrigation Water Management

Allan Andales
Soil and Crop Sciences

electrical control main hub

Smart Irrigation Sensors and the Internet-Of-Things Technology

Jay Ham
Soil and Crop Sciences

Person working in a lab

Food Safety 101

Tamla Blunt
Agricultural Biology

students in meat lab

Meat Processing

Jennifer Martin
Animal Sciences

Early Upskilling Achievements

Over $600,000 in External Funding in 2022

From CHS Foundation and SyncUp Colorado/Zoma Lab, for the following pilot projects:

  • Student Driven Precision Ag Tools for Sustaining Crop Water Resources and Soil Health – This data driven project will adapt micro-credentialling approaches to advance students’ awareness of, and skills in, field-specific precision irrigation scheduling using innovative soil moisture sensing and water balance tools.
  • The Linked Education: Providing a Continuum of Experiences in Agricultural Industries and the Food System, led by CSU in partnership with Together We Grow, the Colorado Vocational Agriculture Teachers Association, Northeastern Colorado high schools Briggsdale and Fleming, and the CSU Spur Campus – Programs will include digital badge modules, reinforced through experiential learning in Food Systems Resiliency and Regenerative Agriculture, community-based student internships, and professional development for teachers across Colorado focused on exposure to and incorporation of cutting-edge technologies and skills in agri-food systems.

The Academy of Applied Agribusiness Management

An educational program designed in collaboration with Five Rivers Cattle Feeders, is currently being piloted with 13 participants from across the company’s feedyards and corporate offices, with plans to expand to additional cohorts and cattle feeding companies. The program aims to provide fundamental and applied training in agribusiness principles, experimental design and statistical analysis, and critical systems thinking to mid-level managers within Five Rivers.

18 Colorado High Schools Already Engaged

18 Ag Teachers and 3 STEM Teachers, 365 students – Briggsdale, Caliche, Fleming, Florence, Fort Morgan, Fruita Monument, Greeley West, Highland, Moffat County, Norwood, Nucla, Plateau Valley, Rifle, Roosevelt (Johnstown), Soroco, Westminster, Windsor, Yuma

Early projects have catalyzed cross-disciplinary efforts across CSU targeting critical global challenges such as soil health and water management. This work directly contributes to college aspirations in enhancing climate resiliency and advancing regenerative agricultural systems. The program’s focus on growing technical skillsets in food systems, particularly related to meat processing and food safety are critical pillars for nurturing human wellness and thriving rural communities.

students standing in field

Upskilling On the Horizon

  • 66+ students signed up to test two new badges in Fall 2022
  • 250+ additional students will fully participate in online badges in Fall 2022-Spring 2023
  • High school student internships at Spur and Northeast Colorado – Summer 2023
  • After initial testing with high schools, badges will be made available to adult learners
  • Additional industry collaborations being explored

Livestock Business Management Major

The Livestock Business Management degree program will be jointly administered by the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics and the Department of Animal Sciences. The program of study is designed to develop active decision-making, communication, and practical management skills to prepare graduates to be effective leaders and agents within contemporary animal agriculture. The integration of efficient livestock systems and business practices through an experiential frame is unique relative to peer institutions in addressing industry demand.

DARE will offer the first two LBM courses in Spring 2023, namely LBM 133 Introduction to Livestock Business Management and LBM 233 Leadership in the Livestock Industry. These courses will include several site visits and industry guest lectures. DARE and AS will begin to jointly offer upper-level courses in 2023-2024.

This program formalizes a longstanding close working relationship between these two departments, enabling a thoughtful integration of disciplines to deliver greater impact than the sum of its parts, contributing to both college and university strategic goals. Owing to an elevated focus on experiential learning, program graduates entering the Colorado livestock industry will be equipped to effectively make decisions related to social, economic and environmental challenges the industry faces and make a significant positive impact on the future of animal agriculture.

Minor in Agricultural Data Science

Agricultural data analysts are among the most highly sought-after employees by agribusiness. The ability to make data-based decisions is an essential skill for future industry leaders seeking to ensure food safety and security, improve ecosystem resiliency and mitigate the impact of climate change. 

Expected to be offered as of Fall 2023, this minor will equip students to provide data-informed technical advice on trends related to animal or crop production, serving as a necessary bridge between animal scientists or agronomists and data scientists. Industry internships will provide practical experience with complex agricultural data, living our land-grant mission of teaching in service of Colorado agriculture.