NORFOLK, Neb. – The public is invited to attend ribbon cutting ceremonies for the new agriculture facilities at Northeast Community College on Tue., April 26. Tours will be offered from 1-4 p.m., with the ribbon cutting scheduled at 1:30 p.m. in front of the vet tech building. In case of inclement weather, the ribbon cutting will be moved inside.
The new facilities are located near the Chuck M. Pohlman Ag Complex at 2301 E. Benjamin Ave. in Norfolk. The veterinary technology clinic and classroom building is a 38,431 square foot facility with classrooms, labs, surgery suite, radiology, kennels and exercise areas, as well as collaborative space for students and offices for faculty.
The farm operations/large animal handling facility is a dual-purpose steel building that provides 11,238 square feet of farm shop space and 10,389 square feet for animal agriculture that includes a bud box for working large animals, horse stalls and stanchions, a wash bay, and a mezzanine for safe observation.
The farm ops/large animal building is located on the new site of the Acklie Family College Farm, north of the Pohlman Ag Complex. Other structures on the site are a three-sided commodities storage building, a small animal shelter, feedlots and sorting pens. There is approximately seven acres that can be used as livestock pens and outdoor classroom area.
Brandon McLean, executive director of physical plant at Northeast, said nearly 65 acres was modified in some manner for the Nexus project. More than 150,000 cubic yards of earth material was moved to create the site. The cost of construction was $19,748,000, with another $2.5 million for furnishings and equipment.
Dr. Tracy Kruse, vice president of development and external affairs and executive director of the Northeast Foundation, said the improvements were made possible by donations from area residents, businesses and foundations.
“Without the nearly $12-million donated to the Nexus campaign,” she explained, “these buildings would still be a dream. Instead, because of the foresight of so many generous individuals, agriculture students at Northeast now learn in state-of-the art facilities that match the cutting-edge curriculum taught by the Northeast ag faculty.”
Kruse also thanked the College Board of Governors for their support of the project.
“The Governors set aside $10-million in the College capital budget over multiple years for this project,” Kruse said. “The result is a private-public partnership to support the area’s number one industry, agriculture.”
The $5-million lead gift for the ag facilities came from the Acklie Charitable Foundation. Both Phyllis Acklie and the late Duane Acklie attended Norfolk Junior College, one of the predecessor institutions that merged to form Northeast Community College. Other significant donations came from the Sherwood Foundation, Peter Kiewit Foundation, Norman W. Ochsner Estate, Sunderland Foundation and TC Energy,
“Every gift to this project is important,” Kruse said, “whether it was $5-million or $5. Agriculture is the future of our area, and these facilities make it possible to train the future farmers and ranchers who live and work in area communities.”
Kruse said donations are still being accepted. Checks can be mailed to the Northeast Foundation at P.O. Box 469, Norfolk, Neb. 68702. Donations can also be made online at northeast.edu/giving. All donations $500 and above are on display on a large donor wall inside the vet tech facility.
“We hope everyone in the community takes the opportunity to tour these new buildings on April 26,” Kruse said. “We are so proud of our ag department and the work they do every day. We want to share our excitement over these new facilities with our alumni, regional employers and the residents of the 20-county area served by Northeast.”
PHOTO ID: Northeast Community College’s Veterinary Technology building at the Acklie Family College Farm in Norfolk.