Making a Difference
(l to r): Jason Sentes, Chief Executive Officer, 1st Choice Savings and Credit Union; Byrne Cook, Chair, School of Agriculture, Lethbridge College; Cassidy Langridge, Digital Branding Specialist, 1st Choice Savings and Credit Union

Knowing that every great harvest starts with a single seed, 1st Choice Savings and Credit Union is investing in the future of agriculture with a $55,000 gift to support student awards in both Lethbridge College’s Bachelor of Agriculture Science degree program and the Agriculture Sciences diploma program.

The staff and leaders at 1st Choice Savings and Credit Union, which is based in Lethbridge, believe a strong southern Alberta economy grows from a healthy agriculture sector. Launched in 2021, the college’s new Bachelor of Agriculture Science program supports the province’s agriculture industry by offering opportunities for career development, a path to further education and hands-on research opportunities, while focusing on the science of agriculture. The well-established Agriculture Science diploma program allows students to split time between classrooms, labs and fields, while choosing from majors in agriculture business, agronomy or animal science. The gift from 1st Choice Savings will help create new awards for students in the program, which will directly support the province’s future agriculture leaders.

“We believe if you want to invest in the future, you must also invest in the present,” says Jason Sentes, CEO of 1st Choice Savings and Credit Union. “These students are the future leaders and innovators of the agriculture industry, and to help them reach their potential, we want them to focus less on their financial worries and more on their studies.”

Lethbridge College’s Bachelor of Agriculture Science flexible degree program ladders out of the college’s Agriculture Sciences diploma program. The new degree program is the only of its kind in southern Alberta and is comparable to Bachelor of Science degree programs offered at the University of Alberta and University of Saskatchewan. Additionally, it, is recognized by the Alberta Institute of Agrologists, with students earning a Professional Agrologist designation following graduation.

“The basis for this program came directly from talking to members of Alberta’s agriculture industry and addressing their needs,” says Byrne Cook, Chair, School of Agriculture. “The students in this program are committed to building innovative and sustainable careers in agriculture. The support from 1st Choice Savings helps to relieve the financial burden on students, allowing them to focus on their studies, while preparing them for meaningful careers in agriculture.”

As a new program, there are few established awards available for Bachelor of Agriculture Science students, so 1st Choice Savings’ gift will help to create student awards for the program’s earliest students, as well as students in the diploma program. The first recipients of these awards will be chosen this summer and will be based on a variety of criteria.

“We are thankful for the support and vision of partners such as 1st Choice Savings,” says Dr. Paula Burns, Lethbridge College President and CEO. “We are all connected in southern Alberta, and by supporting our students, 1st Choice Savings is really supporting the entire agriculture sector, our regional economy and the future of our region. We know our students have unlimited potential, and this gift will help them reach that potential.”

About Lethbridge College

Lethbridge College has offered agriculture education since 1965. The college’s School of Agriculture includes both the Bachelor of Agriculture Science degree program and the Agriculture Sciences diploma program. A variety of agriculture-related applied research opportunities are available through the college’s Centre for Applied Research, Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

About 1st Choice Savings and Credit Union

1st Choice Savings and Credit Union LTD. is a full-service financial institution based in Lethbridge that offers everything a bank can offer, and more. The banking alternative for southern Albertans, 1st Choice Savings and Credit Union serves approximately 17,000 member-owners and brings more than 75 years of history serving the families, agricultural operations, and small businesses that make up southern Alberta.