NDSCS to offer two new Agriculture Degrees

NEW Ag programs available

North Dakota State College of Science will offer Associate in Applied Science degrees in Precision Agronomy and Precision Agriculture Technician starting in the fall of 2023. Approved by the State Board of Higher Education, the new degree programs are aimed at meeting industry needs and the growing demand among students looking to pursue emerging career opportunities in agriculture.

The Precision Agronomy degree is a two-year, 69-credit program that will prepare students to use precision technology to guide agriculture production decisions. “Graduates will have the ability to use technology like mapping to make the best agronomic choices on their farms or when working with a producer through an agronomy center,” said Craig Zimprich, chair of the Agriculture Department. NDSCS developed the program in response to industry demand for employees with expertise in agronomy and precision agriculture. Currently, the NDSCS Agriculture Department offers emphasis options in agronomy and precision agriculture. This new program will merge the options and expand into a standalone associate degree. The curriculum will include courses in plant and soil sciences, agriculture sales, field crop scouting, software, data management and business management. Zimprich believes the expanded curriculum and standalone degree will attract and graduate more students needed to meet the high workforce demand.

The Precision Agriculture Technician degree is a two-year, 69-credit program focused on agriculture equipment. Students will be trained in selling, installing, maintaining, and troubleshooting precision hardware and software on agriculture equipment. NDSCS worked with industry partners and heavy equipment dealerships to develop the program to meet their workforce needs. Zimprich explained that students will gain an agronomic background with a technical understanding of equipment to fill a void between the producer and the dealership. The curriculum will include courses in agronomy, sales and agriculture business, precision agriculture, and heavy equipment electrical and hydraulics. “When we talk to students about this program, their eyes light up because it’s ag and equipment. There’s a lot of students who like that idea,” said Zimprich.

First-year student Hunter Albert of Barnesville, Minn., will be one of the first graduates in the Precision Agriculture Technician degree program. “I’ve always wanted to be on the technology side of farming, working on equipment,” Albert said. “It’s where the future is in farming.” Sponsored by Titan Machinery, Albert plans to complete the degree requirements next spring.

To prepare for successful careers in the rapidly evolving agriculture industry, students in both new programs will receive hands-on training at the NDSCS Kosel Family Agriculture Land Lab, a 90-acre demonstration farm operated by the Agriculture Department, students, and industry partners. Students will also gain professional experience during a 400-hour paid internship between their first and second years of instruction.

In addition to the two new degrees, NDSCS will continue to offer an A.A.S. degree in Agriculture with emphasis options in farm management, ranch management, animal science, and ag business, along with a certificate in meat processing. More information about the degrees can be found online at NDSCS.edu/Ag.

Article written by NDSCS and submitted to external news outlets. 

Student interview for AgWeek TV

College meat cutting programs start to fill up industry need

Multiple colleges in North Dakota and Minnesota are starting up meat cutting programs to try to help meet a demand for workers. Some of the first North Dakota State College of Science students are interning with a small-town meat locker as part of that program.


NDSCS offering Meat Processing program

Meat Processing

North Dakota State College of Science (NDSCS) is accepting applications for students interested in obtaining a certificate in Meat Processing, a new program, beginning Fall 2021. Students who enroll in the Meat Processing certificate program at NDSCS will have the gain skills and techniques needed for this high-demand career field.

This responsive and innovative program is a partnership between NDSCS and North Dakota State University (NDSU). Students will enroll at NDSCS and take 15 credits one semester, then spend the first 8 weeks of the following semester being trained at the NDSU Meats Laboratory and finish the semester with an internship at a small meat processing facility and/or retail stores.

“The long-term goal of this project is to increase the availability of new workers for local, retail, and small-scale meat processors by educating students through this collaborative certificate program” said Agriculture Department Chair Craig Zimprich. “Small meat processors are a vital link in the food supply and allow farmers, ranchers, and livestock producers to retain a greater portion of the live animals value locally.”

This work is supported by the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative – Education and Workforce Development program, award number 2021-67037-34169, from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Additional information about the program and how to enroll can be found online at NDSCS.edu/Ag.

NDSCS and Midwest Community College Partners Join Forces with NRCS

Agriculture Instruction

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.

Kelcey Hoffmann

Kelcey Hoffmann

Assistant Professor
NDSCS Fargo 193E

Daily News: Learning from the land

Ag Land Lab

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.

Red River Farm Network: Land Lab Provides Hands-On Learning for NDSCS Ag Students

Ag Land Lab

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