NORFOLK, Neb. – An education compact focused on agriculture and natural resources in northeast Nebraska is expanding. A signing ceremony was held at Northeast Community College’s Chuck M. Pohlman Agriculture Complex recently to bring 20 school districts and three Educational Service Units into the Northeast Nebraska Agriculture and Natural Resources Education Compact.
In 2019, the compact’s original partners (College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources (CASNR) at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Little Priest Tribal College, Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture, Nebraska Indian Community College, Northeast Community College, Wayne Community Schools and Wayne State College) signed an agreement with goals that are designed to contribute to workforce and talent development while serving the educational needs of youth and lifelong learners.
The compact aims to pool resources and promote collaboration among member organizations to boost ag education and strengthen academic transfer processes. Other goals include building relationships with industry and introducing students to the breadth of career opportunities in agriculture and natural resources fields.
Leah Barrett, president of Northeast Community College, said the work of the compact reflects Northeast’s statutory responsibilities of providing workforce and academic programs that set students on a career path to success.
“We also have statutory responsibility for economic development and community development. This is why we have so much pride in our (college) farm because it is the place where people can come together, to work together, to learn together,” Barrett said. “And as we talk about the farming of the future, we know the importance of bringing together our producers, our students and our children to create pathways for careers.”
Mark Lenihan, superintendent of Wayne Community Schools, said the compact presents unique opportunities for the K-12 schools. This includes developing a network of professional development for agriculture teachers with access to resources from the partner colleges.
“We're all about student achievement, and we all want what's best for our kids,” Lenihan said. “And we all know that with agriculture in Nebraska, there are so many menus and so many ways that students can look to their post-secondary education in their careers. … Dr. Barrett mentioned economic development and retention of people in this part of the state. (With) the amount of jobs and places that students can go, hopefully this will be a great opportunity for them too.”
Tiffany Heng-Moss, dean of CASNR, said the creation of the Northeast Nebraska Agriculture and Natural Resources Compact is an example of the collective efforts of the partners who are putting students and their success first. The initiatives, she said, align with both state and national priorities of improving college and career readiness, educational attainment, and community and economic vitality. It is the first compact of its kind in the state.
“The compact focuses on leveraging the strengths of the partner institutions to serve the needs of diverse learners in this part of the state to contribute to workforce and talent development and the role of vitality in this part of the state,” she said. … And we're very excited to grow the partnership and leverage our collective strengths. It’s about the education needs of youth to lifelong learners, improving college and career readiness and educational attainment and then returning to workforce and talent development that is needed to drive the agricultural sector in this part of the state.”
Logan Nelson of Schuyler, a Northeast Community College ag student who will graduate in May and transfer to UNL this fall, also spoke at the event. He said the work of the compact has been invaluable to people like him and younger students as they search for an area of interest in a career they may not have thought about pursuing.
“In my case, I've benefitted through the compact through the college level to find ways to get my classes to transfer to Lincoln and it has helped me save a lot of money. I appreciate all the work you guys have done and hope you continue to do it.”
ESUs 1, 7 and 8 joined the compact at the signing celebration along with these school districts: Ainsworth, Allen, Battle Creek, Boone Central, Crofton, Elkhorn Valley, Emerson-Hubbard, Homer, Laurel-Concord-Coleridge, Neligh-Oakdale, O’Neill, Ponca, South Sioux City, Stanton, Summerland, Umonhon Nation, Walthill, Winnebago, Winside and Wisner-Pilger.
Representatives from K-12 school districts across northeast Nebraska sign to become members of the Northeast Nebraska Agriculture and Natural Resources Compact during an event recently at Northeast Community College’s Chuck M. Pohlman Agriculture Complex. The compact, which comprises of college partners including Northeast, is designed to contribute to workforce and talent development while serving the educational needs of youth and lifelong learners.