TIFTON—With fall semester classes kicking off on Tuesday, Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College approaches the 2019-20 academic year with residence halls jammed to capacity and more students studying to be nurses and agricultural education teachers.
Dr. Chris Kinsey, Director of Residence Life, took a few moments from Freshman Move-In Day on Thursday afternoon to confirm that ABAC Place and ABAC Lakeside are at capacity.
“We are completely full,” Kinsey said as parents and new students enjoyed the helping hands of ABAC students, faculty, and staff during the move-in process. “That puts us at 1,322 students living on campus this fall.
“We could have a few who do not show but we’ll have some other students ready to take those rooms. It has been a big year for housing.”
With a foundation of excellence spanning over 50 years, the nursing program at ABAC expects more students both in its associate degree program and the bachelor’s degree program in the upcoming fall semester.
“Even with 3.1 million registered nurses and 240,000 nurse practitioners, there is a continued shortage of nurses,” Dr. Jaibun Earp, Dean of the School of Nursing and Health Sciences, said. “A nurse can go anywhere in the world and find a nursing position. It’s a very demanding profession, but also a very rewarding profession.”
Another program that will experience growth during the fall term is agricultural education. The program had 180 students in 2018 and expects 205 students this fall. At the ABAC commencement ceremony in May, a total of 26 ag ed students graduated with their bachelor’s degree, the highest number of agricultural education graduates of any college or university in the Southeast.
“The ag ed cohort which will graduate from ABAC in the spring of 2020 is our biggest one,” Dr. Frank Flanders, associate professor of ag education, said. “We could have as many as 35 ag ed graduates.
Flanders said that starting salaries for ag ed teachers are above average, ranging to the mid $40s per year on a 12-month contract.
“That is a 12-month contract, and there is a lot of night and weekend work involved,” Flanders said. “I never tell them it is an easy job, but most ag teachers just love it. They get a chance to push these students to greater horizons.”
ABAC experienced a record enrollment last year with 4,291 students from 30 countries, 18 states, and 155 of Georgia’s 159 counties. ABAC offers classes in Tifton, Moultrie, Bainbridge, Blakely, and Donalsonville.