Vermont has built a reputation for its handcrafted premium cheeses, pure maple syrup and even craft beers. Now a group of college presidents wants the state to become a national leader in food systems education.

Top administrators at the University of Vermont, Vermont Law School and several other schools in the state created the Vermont Higher Education Food Systems Consortium on Thursday.

The institutions plan to share courses in agriculture, nutrition, law and other topics, allowing students enrolled at one school to take courses, do research or get an internship at another.

David Warren, president of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, says he believes this is the first such consortium in the nation.