Meeting The Need For Ag Industry Workers

Three, two-year colleges in North Dakota are teaming up to offer a new degree aimed at providing the workers needed in the ag industry in the state.
Jim Olson reports from Bottineau.

(Demari Morgan, DCB Student) “If you want to pick one off and eat one…”

It’s a tempting offer. The tomatoes on these towering vines are in the greenhouse at Dakota College at Bottineau. They’re part of the aquaponics program at the college. A program that also grows a lot of lettuce.

“We’re transplanting all the smaller ones to the bigger ones so they have more space and room to grow.”

It’s all done without soil – thanks to the nutrients provided by these tilapia.

(Isaac Perman, DCB Student) “Any kind of waste from the fish gets pumped through these tubes and that’s how the lettuce gets the nutrients needed to survive.”

Also inside the greenhouse? Other fruits grown in a more traditional manner.

(Audrey Dawn Gilbraith, DCB Student) “We have about a dozen flats of strawberry plants here that we take the fruits and flowers off of so they grow deeper and better roots.”

And where does all this fresh produce end up?

(Audrey Dawn Gilbraith, DCB Student) “Eventually giving them to the lunch room and of course we’re going to snack on them a little bit.”

What’s going on here is soon to be part of a new agricultural degree program involving three two-year college campuses.

(Keith Kundson, DCB Ag Instructor) “The advantage to the student is they can be at Williston, they can be at Lake Region, they can be at Bottineau and they’ll be able to take this program and get an ag degree.”
(Dr. Jerry Migler, DCB Campus Dean) “We can each take areas of expertise that we have and we can serve students at all three colleges with that expertise.” fall 2019 start
(Keith Kundson, DCB Ag Instructor) “So we’re excited about it. We have students already signing up for it.”
(Isaac Perman, DCB Student) “I’m pretty into the plants and aquaponics here so I’d definitely be interested in that.”
(Audrey Dawn Gilbraith, DCB Student) “Yeah. Absolutely. I love learning how to grow food and sustain the Earth. And that’s a lot of what they teach here is giving back to the environment.”

The new ag degree will officially begin this fall. In Bottineau, Jim Olson, KX News.

College officials say the three-campus cooperation for the ag degree makes sense to meet a growing need for labor on farms and in agribusinesses in the state.

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