The United States Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) is partnering with North Dakota State College of Science and eight other Midwest community colleges to support hands-on student learning in the field, to develop future conservation-minded farmers and ranchers, and to cultivate more graduates interested in pursuing careers with NRCS.
Today, NDSCS President John Richman, together with representatives of the Community College Alliance for Agriculture Advancement (C2A3) and NRCS, held a virtual ceremony to formally sign a national memorandum of understanding to develop a cooperative framework to enhance and accelerate training and adoption of technologies and best practices for improved agricultural productivity and natural resources stewardship.
“We are extremely pleased to partner with NRCS to provide access for our students to new soil management and agronomic practices, resources and technical expertise,” said NDSCS Vice President for Academic Affairs Harvey Link. “This partnership recognizes the important role NDSCS plays in providing technical education in multiple agricultural areas. It will allow us to partner with other two-year colleges throughout the Midwest to share resources and best practices that will benefit our students, while also helping the NRCS further its mission.”
All C2A3 member institutions, including NDSCS, have land labs or college farms and are able to utilize their land resources for the implementation of conservation practices on the ground to help educate and inform students and producers. The goal of the cooperative agreement between the entities is to not only accelerate the adoption of conservation practices through the education of current, two-year agriculture students, but to also disseminate information to the broader community through field days and other college events and partnerships.
In addition, the colleges are utilizing the network to share resources, knowledge and expertise. Collectively, they are working on a grant through USDA’s North Central Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program, which seeks to increase awareness, knowledge and skills related to soil health, cover crops and no till agriculture. The development of content such as videos and case studies for the classroom is a critical component to help illustrate concepts of profitability, sustainability and productivity. These assets will be shared across the network for the benefit of all member institutions.
“Community colleges educate nearly half of all undergraduate students in this country and yet, our agriculture programs have been an under-utilized resource within USDA,” said Dr. Tracy Kruse, C2A3 board chair. “A majority of our students are the producers in fields. They are technicians in our local co-ops and implement dealers; and they are our agronomy and seed sales professionals. Through these efforts, we hope more of them will also become the soil health specialists and conservationists for local NRCS offices.”
The C2A3 collaboration was born out of a mutual desire to provide more ongoing education, training and demonstration projects to future farm producers and agricultural service providers with the goal of improving the health, and therefore the long-term productivity, resilience and sustainability of the soil.
“We hope that this pilot will grow over time to include more partners and more institutions,” said Jimmy Bramblett, deputy chief of programs for NRCS. “The more successful we are, the more likely we are to drive further innovation and adoption of practices and impact the long-term sustainability of our nation’s resources.”
In addition to NDSCS, C2A3 member institutions include Central Lakes College (Staples, Minn.), Clark State Community College (Springfield, Ohio), Illinois Central College (Peoria, Ill.), Ivy Tech Community College (Lafayette, Ind.), Northcentral Technical College (Wausau, Wis.), Northeast Community College (Norfolk, Neb.), Northeast Iowa Community College (Calmar, Iowa), and Richland Community College (Decatur, Ill.).
For more information about C2A3, visit the organization’s website at agalliance.net.
By Frank Stanko
“One way or another, every student that we have will be impacted by this,” said Craig Zimprich, chair of North Dakota State College of Science’s agriculture department.
The pivotal project is the development of a land lab on 92.4 acres straight west of Walmart in Wahpeton. Previously farmed by the late Richard Kosel and his wife Mary, the land’s lease was donated to NDSCS by Linda Patterson. Not only is Patterson the Kosels’ daughter, she’s also an NDSCS alumni.
Read the full article online at wahpetondailynews.com.
By Red River Farm Network
Last fall, the North Dakota State College of Science Agriculture Program received nearly 100 acres of land. With support from several businesses and organizations, corn, soybeans and wheat are now growing at the college’s Ag Land Lab. NDSCS Agriculture Program Chair Craig Zimprich says students will return this summer for spraying, scouting and precision agriculture training. “They’ll learn from experts in sprayer technology about why different nozzles are used and new technologies,” says Zimprich. “Agronomists will be on hand, helping students scout crops. Also, we know there are salinity issues in the fields. So, the students will look at variability in the different crops, weed pressures and make recommendations.” Students in the program come from a variety of backgrounds. About half plan to return to the family farm, while others will go into agribusiness careers such as agronomy or marketing. Hear more about the Ag Land Lab from Zimprich in the interview below.
Listen to the interview online at www.rrfn.com.
North Dakota State College of Science dedicated its new Kosel Family Agriculture Land Lab today, and recognized local businesses who are providing educational opportunities through their involvement with the land lab. The land lab, located along Richland County Road 10, enables NDSCS Agriculture students to receive hands-on experience in the field to prepare them with skills needed for a career in agriculture.
In May 2017, Linda Patterson and Mary Kosel made a donation to the NDSCS Foundation, allowing for the use of nearly 95 acres of farmland to become an agricultural land laboratory. The NDSCS Foundation requested proposals from agricultural businesses to collaborate with the NDSCS Agriculture department to provide learning opportunities for Agriculture students through the use of the land lab. That process led to memorandums of agreement with Peterson Farms Seed and RDO Equipment Co., who are now actively using the land lab and creating educational opportunities for NDSCS students.
“Our students are looking for hands-on learning experiences. The applied learning and demonstrations at the land lab resonate with them and add to their learning experience,” said NDSCS Agriculture Chair Craig Zimprich. “They are also able to gain insight from business and industry representatives who are sharing their knowledge with our students.”
The collaboration between Peterson Farms Seed, RDO Equipment Co. and the NDSCS Agriculture department is allowing for applied research and demonstrations, and bringing additional expertise to students’ educational experience. Students are learning from the crops that have been planted at the land lab, and are seeing demonstrations about multiple farming practices.
“We’re proud to have the opportunity to work with NDSCS and the Land Lab through this unique public-private partnership,” Joel Kaczynski, said RDO Equipment Co. Product Specialist Manager. “This allows the RDO Equipment Co. team to directly demonstrate the concepts of precision agriculture, and pass along the experience and learnings to NDSCS students, our customers, and the community.”
“We’re excited to work with NDSCS on this Land Lab,” said Peterson Farms Seed Agronomy Lead Adam Spelhaug. “We’ve had a good relationship with NDSCS over the years and this a great way to share some of the work we do in genetic testing. We have some population tests on different hybrids the students will be able to observe along with some seed treatment and variety trials.”
Each year, the NDSCS Agriculture Department serves approximately 80-90 students who are intending to enter production agriculture or the associated sales and service industries after obtaining their Associate in Applied Science (A. A. S.) degree in Agriculture from NDSCS. Individuals interested in the program can learn more online at ndscs.edu/ag, or by attending the College’s Ag Day on Wednesday, November 7. More information and registration for this event can be found online at ndscs.edu/specialevent.