Students wanting to go into ag education in western North Dakota may no longer have to travel far to receive their education.
In an effort to address the ongoing ag teacher shortage, North Dakota State University and Dickinson State University have recently partnered to create an ag education master’s program.
“Twenty years in the making from the time we started offering a bachelor’s degree in agriculture until now,” said Dr. Chip Poland, with DSU.
Dr. Poland says this will be more appealing to students not willing, or not able, to leave western North Dakota.
Students and alumni say that this will help with the shortage of ag teachers.
“I feel it’s really important because, in the corners of Wyoming, Montana, South Dakota and North Dakota, it’s like 700 miles there. You either gotta go to Bozeman, Laramie, Wyoming, SDSU in Brookings or Fargo. And I think we’re missing some really good ag students,” said teacher Misty Steeke.
Steeke says the agriculture industry can vary by location, making it harder for those in the western half of the state to adapt to practices on the Minnesota border.
Her son, Colbey, says it’s not just the agricultural practices that are different.
“I transferred to NDSU where I realized that the change in the culture from Dickinson to NDSU is immensely different,” said ag teacher Colbey Steeke.
Ben Krebs, an ag teacher in New England, says the program is reasonably priced, and a popular spot for non-traditional students.
“Dickinson actually gets a very big number of students transferring from a two-year school to finish out their bachelor’s,” said Colbey.
One of Colbey’s future students, Windy Jacobson, says going to school in Dickinson is closer to home and the smaller city makes for a more tight-knit community.
“You’re a name at Dickinson,” said Misty.
The program is set to roll about out this fall.
Krebs also says when he was in school, going to Dickinson cost half as going to NDSU and today it is still costs approximately one-third less.