NORFOLK, NE - A 2019 graduate of Northeast Community College’s agriculture 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.”