College of Agriculture, Communities, and the Environment

The College of Agriculture, Communities, and the Environment works to uphold the mission of the University through its commitment to research, Extension, and teaching in the food and agricultural sciences. The College is organized around five divisions:

  1. Agriculture and Natural Resources
  2. Aquaculture
  3. Environmental  Studies  and Sustainable   Systems
  4. Food and Animal Science
  5. Family and Consumer Sciences

The CAFSSS works to resolve agricultural, educational, economic, and social problems of the people of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, especially limited-resource persons and families. The various programs of the College are supported by federal and state funds. Each of the five Divisions works to fulfill the requirements of the Morrill Act of 1890 by advancing the three pillars of the land grant mission: research, extension, and teaching which Land Grant programs nationwide were founded upon.


The CAFSSS has nationally and internationally recognized research programs in aquaculture or fish farming, organic agriculture, sustainable biofuel feedstock production, alternative fruit and nut crops, ecological entomology, alternative pesticides and water quality, goat production, obesity and human health, and apiculture. The Aquaculture Program,  KSU’s “Program of Distinction,” is widely recognized as being a national and international leader in the areas of paddlefish culture, freshwater prawn culture, Koi breeding, production of largemouth bass on-feed, and fish meal replacement research for catfish and hybrid striped bass. Additionally, KSU boasts the largest multi-disciplinary team organic agriculture program in the 1890s Land Grant system; recently released its first pawpaw fruit variety, KSU-AtwoodTM; and created the “Shape Up-KSU” program for assessing risk factors for metabolic syndrome in African-American young adults.

These research programs provide mentoring opportunities for students in degree programs as well as faculty experienced in cutting edge research techniques in areas important to agricultural, aquaculture, food, and environmental sciences. The Atwood Research Facility contains 7,000 square feet of office space and 7,000 square feet of laboratory space, including a molecular genetics laboratory and nutrition laboratory. KSU’s Aquaculture Research Center (ARC) includes 33 research ponds, a 3,000-square-foot hatchery houses spawning, holding, and experimental tanks, and a 4,000-square-foot office/laboratory building includes a state-of-the-art histology laboratory, offices, and conference/classroom space. Augmenting these facilities are KSU’s 300 acre Research and Demonstration Farm and its 300 acre Environmental Education Center. The KSU farm has goat, beef, poultry, and fruit and vegetable trials, and 11 acres of certified organic land which hosts a range of projects in organic agriculture.

Extension and Outreach

The Cooperative Extension Program (CEP) provides education and technical assistance to limited-resource families and communities by meeting the needs of homemakers, farmers, youth, the elderly, and many others. Some Extension programs provide one-on-one opportunities where paraprofessionals work directly with family members. The CEP has nationally and internationally recognized programs in: family and consumer sciences, family development and management, family financial management and consumer education, Small farmer outreach training and technical assistance, apiculture, goat production, community resource development, entrepreneurship, 4H and youth development, and Hispanic initiatives. Program accomplishment include: the 3rd Thursday Sustainable Agriculture Workshop series, the Strengthening Kentucky Families (SKY Families) Program providing parenting education classes to persons who have lost custody of their children through the family court system, award-winning programs in financial management, and the Small and Part-time Farmer Program.

Extension program facilities include the new Center for Sustainable Farms and Families, a $5 million dollar, 12,000 square foot, 600-seat building at the KSU Research and Demonstration Farm and the Cooperative Extension Building, which also houses a television studio and state-of-the-art communications equipment available for use by all of CAFSS. The geographic information systems (GIS) laboratory is also located in the Cooperative Extension Building and is utilized by students, faculty and by agricultural research and extension staff to support their activities.

Teaching and Degree Programs

Today’s world needs people prepared to solve global challenges related to agribusiness, climate change, a safe and reliable food supply, protection of natural resources, improved nutrition, public health, and alternative energy sources. The United States Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Labor predict significant job growth in the areas of food,
renewable energy, and environment. Increased demand is expected for agricultural
inspectors, environmental scientists and specialists, including health, agriculturists and food scientists, soil and plant scientists, conservation scientists, forest and conservation technicians, agricultural and environmental law, public and agricultural policy, biotechnology, fisheries, and wildlife, economic development, and agricultural communications. A degree from KSU”s CAFSSS will prepare graduates for a variety of jobs in these fields.

The CAFSSS baccalaureate degree program in Agriculture, Food, and Environment (AFE) with four individual Options in Agricultural, Food, Environ-mental, and Aquaculture Systems is offered to allow training of graduates in these growth areas in the U.S. economy. Using an interdisciplinary approach, students from diverse backgrounds will develop a broad understanding of relationships between agricultural and aquaculture systems, food safety, and the environment.

The CAFSSS also offers Masters degrees in Aquaculture/Aquatic Science, and Environmental Studies (MES).