Meet CJ: Sustainable Agriculture and Agricultural Science student

Austin Community College District’s (ACC) Elgin Campus is home to a 17-acre sustainable farm. The site is home to the college’s Agricultural Sciences program, which offers students the opportunity to learn about agricultural production and entrepreneurship. Students also work in the ACC greenhouse and on the campus farm to raise plants and animals, cultivating a working knowledge of ecological farming practices.

Meet CJ Anderson, a student double majoring in Sustainable Agriculture and Agricultural Sciences. He will complete one degree this May and his second at the end of the summer semester. CJ will be able to complete around half the required credits for his bachelor’s degree at ACC and transfer to Texas State University.

Learn more about his ACC journey and how it has helped prepare him for a future career in agriculture.

What interested you in studying agriculture?

To be self-sustaining has been my personal goal; living off-grid would be a dream.

Why did you decide to enroll at ACC?

I have relatives who worked or still work for ACC and relatives who came to ACC for their degrees in the past. Northridge was a mile from where I grew up, and from a financial perspective, ACC was the smarter choice than attending a university.

What has your experience studying agriculture been like? 

A lot of fun! Meeting other students and getting to know their goals once they have finished their degree has been a helpful tool to learn what I should keep in mind or look out for when I finish. All of my professors have been amazing, personable, down-to-earth, helpful, knowledgeable, etc., making my learning experience very comfortable, and it’s easy just to be myself (including my professors outside of the Agriculture program).  I can only learn and understand so much from textbooks, so hands-on experience in the greenhouse, market garden, ACC farmers market, field trips to other farming or agriculture-related organizations that are already successfully operating, and handling sheep and chickens have all helped me understand further about topics. I’m also doing my internship with ACC’s Agriculture program, and I work on the farm at the Elgin campus. There is a sense of accomplishment when seeing the tiny little seeds you plant and care for grow into beautiful or edible things.

What should people considering enrolling in the program know?

Speaking only for the Agriculture program: be prepared to get dirty some days.  Outside of that, I try to have a good time and a great learning experience.

What is your favorite part about the classes you’ve taken?

The opportunity to do my internship with ACC’s Agriculture program has been amazingly helpful.  Having that more day-to-day, hands-on experience has taught me a lot and given me more confidence in myself for what I’m actually doing or want to do. Some examples are understanding the science of when to grow based on seasons, what plants grow well with each other, and what you can grow based on location, soil health, and environmental factors. The chickens are also a lot of fun.

How has studying at ACC helped prepare you for your future goals?

So far, it has brought me closer to my personal dream of becoming more self-sustaining and to live off the grid. There is still a lot more for me to learn and improve on, but I have time.  ACC has been my foundation to get me started and pointed in the right direction of where to go from here, and even surprised me with other opportunities that I was not aware of.

Is there anything else you’d like to share about your experience with the agriculture program?

I’m at the Elgin Campus Monday through Friday. On Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, I work the farm. If you ever come on my work days, you’ll know I’m there if you hear the music.

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