Nearly 95 acres of corn, soybeans and wheat gently swayed in the midday breeze Monday, June 25 in northeast Wahpeton. The vegetation are no ordinary crops, but part of North Dakota State College of Science’s new Kosel Family Agriculture Land Lab.
Located along County Road 10, north of Walmart, the land lab is designed for agriculture students to receive hands-on experience in the field, receiving necessary skills for agriculture careers. Local businesses were honored for providing educational opportunities by getting involved with the lab.
“There’s going to be a lot of learning,” said Craig Zimprich, chair of NDSCS’ agriculture department. “It’s about teaching and learning in the agriculture world.”
Approximately 36 students were already in the field that afternoon. They planned to fly drones, examine weeds and make determinations about soil health. That data, Zimprich continued, will be used year-round. He anticipates 80 students will be in the agriculture program during the 2018-19 school year.
“Last May, the NDSCS Alumni/Foundation received a wonderful donation,” said Dr. John Richman, NDSCS president, during Monday’s dedication ceremony.
Mary Kosel, who recently turned 91, and daughter Linda Patterson, an NDSCS alumni, were on hand for the ceremony. Their donation allows NDSCS to lease the 92.4 acres for three years.
“The family is not selling the land, nor is the Alumni/Foundation paying for leasing the land during this three-year period,” Daily News Media explained in December 2017.
Working with NDSCS are Peterson Farms Seed and RDO Equipment Co., whose representatives spoke enthusiastically about the land lab’s potential.
“Twenty-five years ago, NDSCS gave me the opportunity to have a successful career in agriculture,” said Joel Kaczynski, a product specialist manager with RDO. “I want to ensure our youth are given a solid foundation for success. This unique partnership enhances learning and provides hands-on experience.”
RDO’s team, Kaczynski stated in a release, will be able to directly demonstrate the concepts of precision agriculture while passing along the experience and teachings to NDSCS students, RDO customers and the community.
The land lab is possible thanks to collaboration, teamwork and trust between companies and individuals, Richman said.
“I am so excited to open this lab, utilize it and provide a better experience for our students,” he added.
Kaczynski singled out Richman’s leadership role.
“He has the vision of collaborating with private industry to make the most rewarding experience for the students and the college,” Kaczynski continued. “Thank you for that vision.”
Approximately 80-90 students take NDSCS’ agriculture classes each year. Individuals interested in the agriculture program can learn more online at www.ndscs.edu/ag, or by attending Ag Day on Wednesday, Nov. 7.