Former Student Named Northeast Farm Manager

Published on: August 27, 2019

NORFOLK, NE – A 2019 graduate of Northeast Community College’s ag department has been named the first manager of the College farm. Rob Thomas will also coordinate activities in the Chuck Pohlman Ag Complex.

Corinne Morris, dean of agriculture, math and science, said Thomas will work with Farm Operations Specialist Dan Radenz, and his assistant, Curt Wilken. “We’ve tried harder and harder to tie the farm together with our class curriculum as well as doing some applied research projects,” Morris said. “The farm hasn’t gotten any bigger, but our use of the farm for educational purposes has grown substantially.”

Thomas’s responsibilities will include tasks that have been handled by several people in the past. Morris said many people have been doing a piece or two of the work, but now one person will be coordinating the farm and ag complex. Thomas’s first job is to write a long term farm plan, looking at what crops are planted in what fields, what’s new in production, and what needs to be done to improve each field.

Another responsibility of the new position is to make sure instructors have what they need from the farm for their curriculum and labs. Thomas said, “I’m excited to work with Northeast educators to get the data that we find in the field back in the classroom, and get students more involved on the farm.”

Thomas will work closely with the ag department’s industry partners. He will also research redesigning of the feedlot, rotational grazing, and other ways to increase the size of the College beef herd using the same resources. Because he took many of the classes and is familiar with the instructors, Thomas said he has ideas for ways to make better use of the farm in the classroom.

Thomas earned his bachelor’s degree from California University in Pennsylvania. He taught technology education for five years, and developed an interest in agronomy and agricultural technology. In researching two-year schools online, Thomas was impressed with Northeast Community College and its top ten Aspen Institute standing. He said the agronomy curriculum at Northeast was exactly what he was looking for, and at a good price. Thomas has earned degrees in agronomy and precision ag at Northeast. As for the possibility of returning to Pennsylvania, Thomas said, “If you’re involved in agriculture, especially row crop, the Midwest is the place to be.”

Funding for the$23 million project is currently being solicited to enhance and expand the agriculture facilities at Northeast Community College. In addition to the College’s commitment of $10 million, Northeast is seeking at least $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. The new facilities will be located near the Chuck Pohlman Ag Complex on East Benjamin Avenue.

For more information, contact Northeast Community College Associate Vice President of Development and External Affairs Dr. Tracy Kruse, tracyk@northeast.edu, 402-844-7056. Online donations can be made through the website agwaternexus.com. Checks can be mailed to: Nexus Campaign, Northeast Community College Foundation, P.O. Box 469, Norfolk, NE 68702-0469.

Photo Cutline – Thomas

Northeast Community College Farm Manager Rob Thomas