Preparing Ag Complex All in a Day’s Work for Northeast Student

Published on: July 15, 2017

Kreg Schlautman NECC Agriculture Complex

During the month of May as the semester wound down and many Northeast Community College students returned home, or began summer jobs and internships, Kreg Schlautman was still on campus, hard at work.

Schlautman, West Point, serves as a student worker at the Chuck M. Pohlman Agriculture Complex on the Norfolk campus. In addition to supervising other student workers, he helps prepare the building for events, cleans and performs maintenance.

And because each event hosted at the Ag Complex has its own unique layout and demands, getting it ready is no small task. “It all starts from the ground up,” Schlautman said.

He explained that when the building hosted the Northeast Nebraska Sesostris Shrine Circus in mid-May, the dirt floor had to be packed down and a large amount of bleachers placed. A week later, Schlautman was preparing for a horse show, which required a softer, watered-down floor to be prepared, the bleachers to come out and an exterior perimeter fence to be put in place. And once the horse show was finished, Schlautman was dismantling the perimeter, setting up panels and putting down mulch to prepare for a beef show.

Schlautman said that the air itself can be a concern at events. If animals or equipment are present, the building must be properly ventilated. When the large doors at the rear of the building are open, humidity also becomes a factor. And when the Ag Complex hosted the annual Norfolk Lions Club pancake feed, which he said attracted approximately four thousand attendees, Schlautman had to ensure the cooking area was correctly ventilated, too.

“If you’re just attending events as a guest, you don’t really realize what’s different, or how much extra work is put into it.”

Schlautman cites pride as a big motivator in his work. “I’m not in it for the money. I care about the building; I care about what happens to it down the road. I want to make it look better because it represents the College. I want kids to come here and realize this is where they want to come to college.”

Tara Smydra, associate dean of agriculture, math and science, said Schlautman has been an asset to both the agriculture department and the Ag Complex.

“Kreg’s communication skills with customers and co-workers is wonderful. He works with a team approach and is willing to work with others to ensure that events are successful. His ability and willingness to try new ideas to improve processes has assisted the College in many ways. These skills will serve him well in his future, and they have all been great benefits to Northeast Community College.”

Schlautman, who plans to graduate from Northeast next spring, is a triple major in agronomy, mechanized agriculture and precision agriculture. He said he began at Northeast in the Fall of 2015 as a mechanized agriculture major but always had an interest in the technological aspect of agriculture. So when Northeast introduced precision agriculture to its programming the following year, Schlautman added it, and later, agronomy, to his studies.

And his studies and work at Northeast are only a slice of Schlautman’s busy life. He has also worked at the Nielsen Community Center in West Point for over five years, preparing the space for events in much the same way he does at the Pohlman Agriculture Complex. He is also heavily involved in his family’s farm operation, which in 2004, expanded from 1,500 head to 12,000 head.

“I’ve been working ever since I’ve been old enough to work. I can’t sit around and do nothing. I have to be doing something at all times.”

After graduating from Northeast, Schlautman hopes to own an agriculture-related business.

“I have a lot of irons in the fire. It’s taking off one hat and putting on another. I haven’t limited myself to anything. As long as I keep up with everything, I can continue to do the stuff that I enjoy.”