Last night, the Country Music Association and special guests Little Big Town unveiled plans at Belmont University for an education-based, national college initiative named CMA EDU. Belmont will host the pilot program, which is a hands-on, real-world experience initiative designed to reach and engage undergraduate college students with the opportunity to enhance and develop skills in the marketing and promotion fields. Essentially, students will roll up their sleeves, get their hands dirty and work directly in the field.

Students who participate in the program will be able to hone their networking skills, gain access to networking opportunities and to enjoy hands-on leadership training exercises. The students are the architects of the program, which promotes both the country genre and CMA events while building their resumes in the process. It's a win-win for all involved, especially if the students plan to pursue behind-the-scenes careers in country music entertainment.

Program entrants will be tasked with inspiring campus-wide awareness of country music and CMA events, attend monthly CMA EDU meetings, and work with fellow members to come up with creative promotional tactics and strategies. Qualifications include current enrollment as an undergraduate college student, the ability to organize events, a creative and enthusiastic attitude and, of course, an interest in country music.

According to Country Music Tattletale, CMA board member Karen Fairchild of Little Big Town said, "CMA EDU is going to provide students an up-close look at the business they aren't going to get anywhere else. The networking possibilities are endless. I can only imagine how I would have jumped at the opportunity as a student to be a part of something this closely tied to the actual music business being done in Nashville. We're thrilled to be a part of the inaugural program."

Belmont's program already counts 115 members in its ranks. The program will test the waters at other campuses in Nashville with music industry programs before expanding nationally. Colleges in Alabama, Ohio, Tennessee and Virginia have expressed interest in launching the program, as well.