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Animal Science: It’s not just for farmers

Agriculture has been an important part of North Carolina’s economy throughout the state’s history. The agriculture industry, including food and forestry, contributes around $76 billion to the state’s economy, according to the State Library of North Carolina’s website.

“Because agriculture is an important part of our state’s economy, we need to encourage the next generation to explore careers in agriculture,” said Courtney Happ, animal science instructor. “Statistics show that the average age of farmers in Cleveland County is 58.6 years. That doesn’t sound very old, but if we don’t train young farmers now, when those farmers are ready to retire in 10 years or so, they won’t have anyone to hand the reins to.”

Happ adds, however, that this program isn’t just for those interested in becoming farmers.

The animal science program at CCC is also a good opportunity for students who are interested in working with animals and animal agriculture.

Possible careers include working in the areas of agriculture and food science, animal health, agricultural sales, and other areas.

Happ has created a program that offers students the opportunity to experience various areas of work in the industry, first in the classroom and then on field trips to local farms and businesses.

In the classroom, students use interactive equipment for hands-on learning, including activities such as performing ultrasounds on cattle, delivering baby animals, and learning about breeding techniques.

The field trips expose students to farms and businesses that raise beef and dairy cattle, goats, sheep, chickens and more. The students observe and learn from farm owners and operators. They also have the chance to perform tasks such as giving injections, deworming animals, practicing animal handling techniques, and working with animal handling equipment such as cattle chutes.

Happ has drawn on her experience as a student at NC State to create this program, ensuring a high-quality educational experience. Depending on a student’s goals, they can complete a certificate in one or two semesters or pursue an associate degree.

For students interested in transferring, CCC’s animal science program can provide a valuable edge when applying to university-level programs. “These programs are very competitive at the university level,” said Happ. “Having these classes and the experience gained at CCC on their application will help our students stand out.”


In addition to the AAS in Applied Animal Science Technology, CCC offers the Applied Animal Science Technology certificate, which can be completed in two semesters, and the Introduction to Animal Science certificate, which can be completed in one semester.

The Applied Animal Science Technology Certificate is also offered to high school students through the Career and College Promise program. This program allows qualifying high school students to take college courses tuition-free.

For those interested in transferring, the College has transfer pathway agreements with the following universities:

  • NC State – animal science programs 
  • NC A&T – agriculture education programs 
  • University of Mount Olive – Agricultural and biological sciences programs 
  • Appalachian State University – sustainable agriculture and agriculture education programs