Lees-McRae signs articulation agreement with The Bahamas Agriculture and Marine Science Institute (BAMSI)

For just over half a decade, Provost Alyson Gill has maintained a relationship that crosses mountains, national borders, and even a bit of ocean. This relationship is a partnership with the Bahamas Agriculture and Marine Science Institute (BAMSI) on the island of Andros in the Bahamas, and now she has brought that connection to Lees-McRae through an articulation agreement with the institute.

Earlier this year Gill, along with Dean of Education and Social Sciences Pam Vesely and Dean of Persistence and Completion Experience and Director of the Burton Center for Student Success Beth Beggs, traveled to the BAMSI campus to establish a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the two institutions.

“The idea is to create more two-plus-two programs, where their students complete an associate degree there at BAMSI, and then come here and finish their bachelor’s degree in Business or Wildlife Rehab, or whatever else they would choose to do,” Gill said. “It’s a long-standing partnership that I’ve had, and I think it could benefit not only the students who are there, who can come here and complete their degrees, but also it offers us an opportunity to have our students go there. It’s a way to diversify our student body, as well as increase our global view.”

Since 2014 BAMSI has operated as an institution of higher education focusing on teaching, researching, and extension and outreach. The campus covers more than 800 acres of land and focuses on sustainability and building a connection with the surrounding communities.

According to the BAMSI website, “the institute offers teaching and training to provide the professional and technical qualifications necessary for various branches of agriculture and marine resources and to provide strong academic training and extensive hands-on orientation in crop and livestock production, farm management, environment conservation, agri-business, and management of marine resources.”

“BAMSI has a program that is dedicated to sustainability and teaching the farmers on Andros how to farm,” Gill said. “They have a beautiful farm there, and the students in that program are basically learning the mechanics from the ground up about how to grow, cultivate, and distribute produce and livestock.”

One of the drawing factors that made the partnership between Lees-McRae and BAMSI appealing are the institutions’ shared goals. BAMSI has a vision to operate in a sustainable, environmentally friendly way—goals that are also espoused by the Lees-McRae sustainability plan.

“Everything on the whole BAMSI campus gives and takes to help each other,” Beggs said. “Everything gives back to something else; there is no waste. We talk at Lees-McRae about wanting to be sustainable, but I have not seen anything in my life that is as thoroughly sustainable as BAMSI is, because everything contributes to the next step, which I thought was just amazing.”

This partnership will provide many opportunities for Lees-McRae students and BAMSI students alike. By hopping on just a two-hour direct flight from Charlotte, Bobcats can experience a different culture, climate, ecosystem, society, academic experience, and more, taking experiential learning to the next level.

In addition to Outdoor Recreation Management, Beggs and Gill are exploring study abroad and experiential learning opportunities for Wildlife Biology and Wildlife Rehabilitation students, Theatre Arts students, Nursing students, and more.

“There are opportunities to see animals that we don’t have up here, and the birding is supposed to be amazing there,” Beggs said. “There are birds that are very rare species that only appear on this island. Students who are interested in the natural sciences like geology or geography that we don’t offer courses in, I could see doing an exchange course where they are learning about the different formations such as blue holes.”

Blue holes are a rare environmental phenomenon which happen to be more common on the Andros Island in the Bahamas than anywhere else in the world. These phenomena are almost completely unexplored and present an unmatched research opportunity for Biology students.

Similarly, the academic programs offered at Lees-McRae will enable BAMSI students to expand their education in a new environment. According to Gill, the academic programs at BAMSI  that focus heavily on agriculture can become even more beneficial when paired with some of the complementary academic offerings at Lees-McRae.

“One of the things I found in their students is often with an agriculture degree, that’s good, but if you can pair that with a business degree that’s even better,” Gill said. “There are things we can offer them, and there are certainly things they can offer us.”

Gill hopes to begin exchanges between Lees-McRae and BAMSI as early as Fall 2022 when a small group of faculty will head to the island to do some advanced work and prepare for students to join them. She plans for students to be able to take advantage of all the opportunities Andros and BAMSI have to offer in Summer 2023.

Learn more about experiential learning and international education at Lees-McRae

Learn about the other schools that have articulation agreements with Lees-McRae

By Maya JarrellJuly 20, 2022