When it comes to teaching about modern agricultural practices, having modern facilities to do so makes sense. Not only is learning easier when students see firsthand what is being taught, it is a necessity.
That is just one reason why Northeast Community College’s Nexus campaign is worthy of support.
Last month, Northeast publicly announced details for the $23 million Nexus campaign to enhance and expand the college’s agricultural facilities on its 500-acre farm.
In addition to the college’s commitment of $10 million, Northeast also needs about $13 million in private funds to begin the initial phase of construction, which includes a new farm site with a farm office and storage, a large animal handling facility and other farm structures for livestock operations, and a new veterinary technology clinic and classrooms.
Already, a pledge of $5 million has been announced from the foundation established by Madison County natives Duane and Phyllis Acklie. Several other significant gifts also have been announced, building momentum toward reaching the overall fundraising goal. We hope that continues.
It’s important to remember that many of Northeast’s existing farm buildings were built in the 1950s — or earlier. If the goal is to help educate young men and women to be able to thrive in today’s agricultural world, working with outdated facilities is not ideal.
Using modern computers to control feed rations — or to give specific rations for dairy cows dependent on their milk production — is easier when barns and technology can handle it.
And while Northeast Nebraska has made attempts to diversify its economy so it isn’t so agricultural dependent, farming still is the region’s biggest industry. Given the productive farmland and ample groundwater, it probably always will be.
That’s why this area’s future farmers should have the best agricultural facilities. Some of the most productive farms and livestock operations anywhere in the world are within the college’s 20-county service area.
That includes cattle and hog feeding, ethanol production or other livestock and crop production.
And the ag sector continues to evolve.
Now, many counties in the region are home to new poultry feeding operations. Low- and no-till crop production continues to change with modern conservation practices.
The new Northeast facilities will be near the Chuck Pohlman Ag Complex on East Benjamin Avenue in Norfolk.
Northeast has the data to show that agricultural graduates are the most likely to remain in the region. Talk about a return on investment.
As farms have grown, so have the facilities. Trying to get students the tools and resources they can use to help them learn is critical for the farming industry and region. That’s why Northeast’s Nexus campaign is so important, and so deserving of support.