CURTIS — A $100,000 grant used to expand distance, mobile and on-site education for workforce development at the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture was announced late last week by the Nebraska Department of Education.
The two-year college in Curtis plans to purchase cutting-edge technology in four academic areas to expand its youth and adult education programming and to stimulate greater interest in high-demand jobs, NCTA Dean Larry Gossen said.
“This is quite exciting for NCTA to enhance and expand our long-standing history of hands-on learning for agriculture and veterinary technology,” Gossen said. “The federal grant is significant in our ability to deliver educational programs beyond the traditional campus methods.”
NCTA is among 11 education providers in Nebraska receiving the funds from a Perkins V “reVISION Action Grant,” said Therese Marzouk, workforce partnership specialist in the Education Department’s Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education.
A robotic welder, full-size equine simulator, mobile agronomy demonstration unit and robotic camera for livestreaming classes will be among technology acquired by NCTA to complete the project by June 30, 2021, Gossen said.
“Preparation for students to enter the workforce is why NCTA has a statewide mission through the University of Nebraska system,” said Gossen. “Career development creates awareness of high need, high skill and high wage careers known as H3 jobs. At NCTA, we create industry-ready, skilled employees.”
Labor statistics from the Nebraska Works website combined with employer requests for NCTA graduates show H3 careers include agricultural welders, agronomists and crop consultants, and animal health jobs such as veterinary technicians, veterinary assistants, and laboratory animal caretakers.
“In addition to maintaining our high-quality, in-person programs here on campus, now NCTA faculty will be able to offer greater awareness and cutting-edge technology in program delivery to junior and senior high school classrooms, remote learners in youth and NCTA Aggie student courses, and to adults seeking new careers or who are currently in the workforce,” Gossen said.
NCTA will apply the $100,000 grant to purchasing equipment and technology. As needed, supplemental funding may come from external sources including industry partners, NCTA alumni and others.
NCTA’s four-part grant priorities are:
» Expand welding program: Double the size of the existing facility, increase the number and types of welding equipment, add CNC plasma cutters and purchase a robotic welder.
» Mobile agronomy engagement and recruitment lab: Equip an interactive, hands-on mobile display and laboratory unit for outreach at schools, fairs and learning centers to provide an awareness of careers in plant and soil science and pest control, along with irrigation technology systems and natural resources.
» Animal science and veterinary technology simulation models: Provide life-size models of a horse, cat and dog as simulators in training animal care skills. The horse includes a palpation and colic simulator especially helpful for students unfamiliar with procedures on a live, large animal. The models will be used on campus and for outreach education.
» Technology for remote and livestream: State-of-the-art imaging system recommended by the American Veterinary Medical Association for hands-on teaching techniques used by private veterinary practices. Cameras, microphones and mobile filming to livestream equine clinics and livestock judging, and animal science courses from the indoor arena and campus classrooms.
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