Program emphasizes on healthy lifestyle

Three professors on campus have created a certificate program that has a deep focus on plant-based, sustainable agricultural science as it relates to the environment and the health of the human body.

The Department of Nutrition and the Department of Horticulture worked together to bring to campus the “Plant-Based Nutrition and Sustainable Agriculture Program,” which would educate students in more than just the science behind this subject, but also how to be hands-on with it.

Nutrition Professor and Department Chair Dana Wassmer said she is very proud of the unique PBNSA program that she and Nutrition Professor Timaree Hagenburger have brought to Cosumnes River College.

It takes three required courses to complete the program: NUTRI 303, the Plant-Based Nutrition class, NUTRI 331, the Plant-Based Food Principles and Preparation class, and HORT 313, the Sustainable Agriculture class.

After earning a certificate in the program, students will be knowledgeable in the health benefits behind an entirely plant-based diet, including how it can help treat and prevent chronic diseases, what it can do for the environment and how to actually bring farm-to-fork home with them, according to the program’s website.

Hagenburger keeps the attention of her class with her energy, mid-class stretches, humor and a fun approach to teaching using a class project called “plant-based leaders and rockstars.”

Students pick from a list by a person who has made an impact on the plant-based community, and Hagenburger said they love it because they find people who they didn’t know were completely plant-based such as celebrity movie stars, professional athletes, doctors, chefs and humanitarians.

Chanelle McCreary, a 19-year-old business major, said she had a great time in Hagenburger’s nutrition class but did have some difficult times shying away from bad habits. “I still was able to overcome them and change certain aspects of my own diet.”

Hagenburger noted that even though Sacramento is the farm-to-fork capital, people are still missing pieces of plant-based nutrition.

“We decided that if we were going to do something that it had to be hands-on to start out, so we wanted students to have the skills to be able to know what plant-based nutrition is all about, which plants are the most nutritious, all the science behind it, how to cook them and how to grow them,” Hagenburger said.

CRC has an on-campus garden that Horticulture Professor David Andrews tends to and uses to teach his students in his sustainable agriculture class.

“This nutrition field together with David Andrew’s sustainable agriculture field continues to grow quickly to meet the needs of a severely broken system falling apart,” said Kip Baumann, 46, a former CRC student who completed the certificate program in Fall 2018.

Baumann said he became interested in health research after his daughter was born in 2009 and was diagnosed a few weeks later with biliary atresia, a life-threatening liver disease. He said going plant-based has allowed his daughter to thrive while dealing with this progressive disease.

“Everyday we make multiple decisions about what we eat, and those decisions have an impact on our bodies well-being, the environment, and the animals that inhabit it,” Hagenburger said. “It’s your fork, but it’s our planet.”

Hagenburger said her students are telling her about how the program has changed their outlook on what they eat and how the program has changed them.

“They are absolutely life-changing and best taken when young so you can set you and your family’s health trajectory straight before acquiring the SAD (Standard American Diet) diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, dementia, etc,” Baumann said.

Overall, McCreary recommends taking Hagenburger’s class because “it will help with allowing you to reevaluate yourself and your habits to become more of a healthier person with better aspects to change your diet.”