After discovering UNC Pembroke’s emerging agriculture science program, Katina Oxendine was inspired to return to her alma mater—this time with hopes of transforming her passion for medicinal plant research into a career.
UNCP first offered the new degree program to biology students during the 2019-2020 academic year. It was developed to prepare students to enter the agricultural industry at any level and emphasizes the importance of agriculture and connects students to the rich agricultural history of the community.
A few years after earning a fine arts degree, Oxendine returned to UNCP, pursuing a biology degree and opting to follow the sustainable agriculture track.
“I’ve always had an interest in researching medicinal plants. But it was only a hobby,” Oxendine said. “It was during my second semester when I met Dr. (Bryan) Sales, and that’s when I made the switch to agriculture science.”
In the agriculture science program, students develop practical agricultural skills and leadership, collaboration and business skills.
During her pursuit of being the program’s first graduate, Oxendine has taken advantage of opportunities inside and outside the classroom. Last summer, she participated in the Agroecology Scholars Program in Research and Extension (ASPIRE), a partnership of N.C. State University, N.C. A&T State University, and the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. While at N.C. State, she researched the biodiversity of weeds and how they were impacted through various farming systems. Oxendine presented her research at the A Creative Economy for Sustainable Development conference in Salt Lake City.
The Pembroke native plans to become a certified herbalist and eventually start her own herb farm business upon graduation.