The University of Arizona

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Support Increased Economic Opportunities and Improved Quality of Life in Rural America
Distance Education Partnership for Rural Arizona

Impact Nugget
For the past eight years, interactive television classes have enabled more than 500 students in rural Arizona to complete courses toward bachelor’s degrees in agriculture without leaving their home towns.

Arizona's three public universities are located in Phoenix, Tucson and Flagstaff, leaving rural areas of the state underserved for academic programs in agriculture unless students matriculate to the University of Arizona. Distance education allows students to complete a bachelor's degree without leaving their home towns.

What has been done?
Interactive television courses are available in Yuma, Coolidge and on the University of Arizona campus as part of a collaboration between the UA College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Central Arizona College's Signal Peak campus near Coolidge, and Arizona Western College in Yuma, using microwave television technology provided by Northern Arizona University. Specially equipped classrooms in all three locations enable students to interact with the teacher and each other simultaneously. Live class sessions are transmitted from Tucson to Yuma and Coolidge, and also from Yuma to Tucson. Students enroll at the community colleges for lower division course work and then take the distance courses through NAU and the UA to complete their degrees.

In 2005, this cooperative inter-institutional arrangement enabled more than 60 students to take agricultural courses from The University of Arizona without leaving their home towns. Since 1998, these interactive television classes have enabled more than 500 students in rural Arizona to complete courses toward bachelor’s degrees in agriculture without leaving their home towns. Approximately 40 students have completed degrees in rural areas by attending live distance education classes. The program fulfills one of the Arizona Board of Regents priorities: to expand access to the university. These are nontraditional students, and in the case of those in Yuma, nearly all work full time. Many are older, with families, and are changing careers or finishing degrees after time away from school.

The program enabled the cooperating institutions to arrange their curriculum to include each other's courses and thus expand their programs without hiring extra faculty to teach duplicate courses on each campus. As a result of this program, Northern Arizona University has accepted several agricultural science courses from the University of Arizona as electives for their general education requirements.

"Without the opportunity to attend the UA classes here in Yuma, I would not have been able to finish a bachelor's degree in agriculture. Agriculture is a large part of the Yuma economy. Offering this major here is good for the agriculture industry, the community and the potential students who live in this area and are unable to relocate." –42-year-old mother of two

"I was injured and could no longer afford to work as a produce truck driver. I decided to turn a dream of mine into reality by attending Arizona Western College and the University of Arizona in Yuma. I have completed my associate's degree, and am now working toward a bachelor's degree in agricultural systems management at the UA with plans to finish next year. I would not have been able to realize my dream without access to the UA program here in Yuma. Upon completion of my degree, I plan to work for Arizona Parks and Recreation." –61-year-old agricultural systems management student

"I have a wife and a two-year-old daughter. I work full time for a seed company, and just graduated form the UA right here in Yuma. Because of my responsibility for my family, I wouldn't have been able to get a degree if it hadn't been for the flexibility of the Agricultural Systems Management program. I was able to tailor my own class schedule to allow me to work full time and complete my classes." –25-year-old father of one

"I moved to Yuma with my husband and three children. I left college during my senior year at San Francisco State. After 21 years, going back to school was quite a challenge. The University of Arizona offered me the opportunity to switch my major from biology to Agricultural Systems Management." 44-year-old mother of three

"Having an Agricultural Systems Management degree option here in Yuma is a great thing. I started the program and took one or two classes each semester to finish in six years. The majority of my classes were taken after work. Since I was married and had to support my family, I was working a regular eight-hour day. I tailored my own class schedule on my time availability. After completion of this program, students have knowledge to work in many different agricultural areas." –39-year-old father and husband

University of Arizona College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
Northern Arizona University
Arizona Western College
Central Arizona College

David E. Cox, associate dean and director
Academic Programs, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
The University of Arizona
PO Box 210036
Tucson, AZ 85721
Tel: (520) 621-3612, FAX (520) 621-8662

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