HUNTINGTON, Ind. — At Huntington University, the spotlight always has been on faith, family and farming.
That’s why it made sense in 2015 to create the Haupert Institute for Agricultural Studies, a department with a mission to promote Christian perspective on agriculture. It’s a place where students focus on environmental stewardship, sustainability and justice.
To commemorate the program’s first year, the college hosted its first annual harvest celebration and auction Nov. 10. University leaders and students shared their stories at the event.
“I think God’s people who have chosen to work in farming are sure about a few things,” said Sherilyn Emberton, president of Huntington. “They know that whatever they have, they don’t really own it. They consider themselves stewards of God’s creation.
“They know that everything good and perfect comes from God. It’s not about keeping what you have and building bigger barns, but giving it away — pressed down and running over.”
Since its inception in 1897, the university has been co-educational, co-cultural and co-missional, she said.
The college now has a record enrollment of 1,300 students, as well as its largest operational budget to date.
Michael Wanous, dean of Huntington, said that leaders are excited for the new agricultural institute.
“Agriculture in Indiana is huge,” he said. “It’s a huge part of the economy. There’s a lot of people involved. There’s so many different levels of participation from farming to all the kinds of agribusiness.
“With our Christian mission, I think that we can bring a unique contribution in that area. Because we can look at agriculture and agribusiness, not just as how to maximize profits, but how to be good stewards of God’s creation, how to serve humanity through agriculture.”
The institute is in its infancy and continues to develop each semester.
“After our first year of instruction, agriculture at Huntington University is off to a good start,” said Raymie Porter, director of the institute. “We have made solid connections with a number of agribusinesses and agricultural working groups.
“More importantly, a growing number of students see Huntington as the place they want to study agribusiness and agricultural education. We need to grow in faculty and facilities to stay on track.”
Abigail Atkins, a student, said the institute was the right fit for her situation.
“I chose Huntington because it allowed me to double major,” she said. “My agribusiness degree will allow me to own my own veterinary hospital, and my biology degree gives me the science background I need to be successful in veterinary school.”
Upcoming projects at the institute include a greenhouse, funding for broader marketing, development of the ag education major and animal sciences track, hiring of a second full-time faculty member and more.
Learn more at www.huntington.edu/agriculture.