Thomas Coene ’19 accrued much information while completing his Agricultural Business Management Bachelor’s degree, including the positive impact his return to SUNY Cobleskill to earn his Associate’s in Sustainable Crop Production would have on his career. While the thought of launching into a new degree immediately upon completing another is a dauting ask of many students, for Coene, the connection between Agricultural Business and Sustainable Crop Production made the transition feel more like a continuation.
“My mind turned to how I can keep my fifth-generation family farm operation sustainable for generations to come,” explains Coene. “I figured I had a pretty good handle on the economic and social side of it, but wanted to further my knowledge about climate-conscious farming. I had an interest in plant science from growing up on the family apple orchard, so I figured the slate of classes required for this additional [degree] would be a valuable supplement.”
Sustainability runs throughout agriculture, applying in different ways to individual components, says Coene. With regard to operating his family farm, he says the three pillars of sustainable agriculture – environmental, social, and economic influences – each play their own factor.
“My family farm, along with most in New York, is beginning to feel the effects of climate change. Earlier springs, more frequent flooding and drought, and harsher winters are challenges I will grapple with in my career. I feel that this further education will help me be better-prepared to mitigate these risks.”
That Coene has focused his education does not mean he finds the Sustainable Crop Production curriculum restrictive. Rather, “the education I received in Sustainable Crop Production was broad and thorough. By taking classes such as Integrated Pest Management, Weed Science, Sustainable Agriculture, Soil and Water Conservation, and Organic Farming, I feel more prepared than ever to enter a career as a fulltime farmer.”
Feature photo: In the time it took to accrue two SUNY Cobleskill degrees Thomas Coene picked up more than a few significant achievements.