Committee Provides Advice to Northeast Ag Program

Published on: July 27, 2018

Since 1975, hundreds of people have stepped outside their workplaces to offer guidance, feedback and direction to Northeast Community College administrators, faculty and staff as advisory committee members.

These individuals serve the more than 30 programs on campus associated with career and technical programs, said Lyle Kathol, vice president of educational services at the Norfolk-based College.

The advisory committee members, he said, provide “very valuable advice” from their respective business perspectives in such areas as technology, job entry and advancement requirements, curriculum, and physical needs.

Ten area residents – some of whom are Northeast graduates – serve on the agriculture advisory committee, representing production agriculture and agribusiness sectors.

Longtime committee member Jim Miller, Belden, said he “uses his experiences as an agricultural producer (crops and livestock) to help give guidance and direction to the faculty and staff of the Agriculture Department.”

As a graduate from Northeast’s agricultural program 40-years ago, Miller said he can see “where the program has been and where it is headed.” Adding to what he can share as a committee member, Miller said, is his service on local, state and national ag boards, “which helps me see what is going on both here and around the world.”

Nancy Kirkholm, Homer, is in her second year on the committee. As a hands-on grain producer, she said she can address such topics as management, record keeping, precision agriculture, marketing and trends.

“I can see the importance of having outside opinions and perspectives because the community college representatives here and students can be insulated in this facility, so it’s always advantageous to bring experienced people in the industry and embed them inside a community like this,” she said. “It opens up different avenues, thoughts and needs for agriculture.”

Ron Coufal, a farmer and cattle feeder from Howells, has served on the ag advisory committee since 1999. The changes in technology in the agricultural industry since then are “just unbelievable,” he said.

Coufal said his three sons graduated from Northeast, with their wives – as well as many of his nieces and nephews – attending Northeast.

“Everyone has brought something back that has helped the operation become more successful and more profitable,” he said.

Clint Jedlicka, Schuyler, earned his diversified agriculture degree from Northeast in 2006, and has served on the advisory committee for 11 years. He brings his experiences in farming and cattle feeding to the table, adding that he sees Northeast ag graduates as potential employees.

At this year’s recent annual meeting, each ag advisory committee member was asked to share major factors or changes they foresee impacting their industry in the next decade.

Answers included ag risk; commodity exports; education of consumers on various ag issues; data usage; “new ways of agriculture”; increased efficiencies; cover crop value; autonomous equipment; family farm survival; rural broadband; and enhanced genetics.

Chance Lambrecht (left), in his first year as an agricultural precision instructor at Northeast Community College in Norfolk, visits with Belden producer Jim Miller. Miller is a longtime member of Northeast’s Agriculture Advisory Committee, which recently conducted its annual meeting. (Courtesy Northeast Community College)

The agenda also included introduction of new ag faculty, as well as updates on the College’s 500-acre farm; grant and applied research programs; the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture (NACTA) Judging Contest that was hosted by Northeast back in April; and the proposed national Agriculture & Water Center for Excellence to be built on the Northeast campus.

Guests included four Northeast ag students who spoke about their studies and experiences at Northeast and three representatives from Snow College in Ephraim, UT.

“The Northeast Agriculture Department really depends on the advisory committee members’ expertise to keep us updated as to industry needs and what the concerns are for the workforce,” said Corinne Morris, dean of agriculture, math and science at Northeast.