Viticulture and Enology
Science and Technology Alliance
VESTA Students Persist in Online Viticulture & Enology Program
VESTA’s online program has a 59% average retention rate. This is higher than the 46% average retention rate for online programs nationally, and the 55.5% retention rate for two-year public colleges.
Key to this retention rate is the importance VESTA places on faculty development. Each year, VESTA conducts an annual curriculum development workshop for its faculty of 24 industry professionals. At the 2013 workshop, VESTA’s instructional designer helped instructors sharpen their online pedagogy and implement organizational strategies for their specific courses.
At the annual workshop faculty also meet with 100 industry and education leaders from 20 states. Information from these discussions is used to refine the STEM-based competencies that form the foundation of VESTA’s 40 viticulture and enology courses.
VESTA Grows Along with Grape Industry
VESTA’s leaders work closely with the grape industry, which produces the sixth largest crop and highest-value fruit crop in the US. A recent economic impact study by MKF Research LLC, reports that the 23,000 US farms that grow grapes for wine, raisins, and table grapes contribute $162 billion to the economy.
In the last five years, the US wine industry has grown 70% with 7,200 wineries across all 50 states producing 605 million gallons of wine. VESTA has experienced similar vigorous growth with a 319% increase in enrollment across the same five-year span. During the 2008-2009 academic year, VESTA had 288 online students. By the close of 2012-2013, VESTA had gained 920 new online students from 44 states and four foreign countries for a total program involvement of 1,208 students. Successful students have become entrepreneurs, managers, and technicians.
VESTA’s partnership with Highland Community College-Wamego is an example of the online educational program instigating a thriving on-campus program that has both a teaching winery and vineyard. Since the VESTA-Highland Community College partnership began in 2010, the college has enrolled 58 campus-based students; 40% are employed in the local wine industry as technicians or as owner-entrepreneurs.