Department COVID-19 Updates:

Ag is #1 at NCTA

Feeding horses at the NCTA campus in February 2020. Many winter classes and public events are at the indoor arena of the Livestock Teaching Center shown in the background. (Crawford / NCTA News photo)
Feeding horses at the NCTA campus in February 2020. Many winter classes and public events are at the indoor arena of the Livestock Teaching Center shown in the background. (Crawford / NCTA News photo)

By NCTA Dean Larry Gossen, Ph.D.

Spring storms brought much-needed nourishment last weekend with over 3 inches of rain at campus.

The moisture gives all of us in southwest Nebraska, which is in a severe drought, reason to celebrate National Agriculture Week on March 21-27.

When our Aggie students at the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture return Monday from spring break, they’ll resume the final six weeks of classes.

Hands-on agriculture experience is our hallmark at NCTA. Lessons learned are quite evident in working with livestock, particularly with newborns.

Calving season at NCTA is at the half-way point, under the watchful eye of students who volunteer for a 3- or 4-day calving rotation.

In teams of two, students check on the cow herd every four hours. Our herd is pastured at NCTA Aggieland, a calving area protected by trees and equipped with corrals and a calving barn.

Although it didn’t snow or blizzard in Curtis like it did in western Nebraska over the weekend, some rainfall and high winds added elements common to agricultural work.

“We were checking on cows that were in the trees and heard a tree crash down on Saturday night,” shared Jacob. In daylight, Jacob and his teammate, Jake, saw three other trees that had fallen. Fortunately, the livestock and humans were not victims of high winds.

Students in beef production and Veterinary Technology courses sign up for calving rotations.

Students gain practical experience in monitoring the cows, providing calving assistance (if needed), ear tagging and vaccinating the calf, and keeping written records. NCTA’s Experiential Learning Coordinator Alan Taylor supervises the students.

Many Aggie students live agriculture day in and day out, whether at the campus or home in their farming and ranching operations.  They choose to attend NCTA to further refine their skills as ag producers or for careers connected to agriculture, including veterinary technology and animal health.

I appreciate their dedication and join Nebraskans in saluting the commitment of the farm and ranch families and individuals who provide the food, fiber, and fuel vital for consumers.


Agriculture is our number one industry in Nebraska and at NCTA. Currently at our farm, we produce beef cattle, corn, soybeans, alfalfa, wheat, grass hay, proso millet or forage sorghum, goats, and some swine. 

“We have several different species of farm animals to give the students hands-on experiences in production agriculture,” shares Alan Taylor, who oversees livestock and crops at the NCTA Farm.

Taylor also is associate professor of animal science. He coordinates livestock teaching with professors, as well as the cropping systems work with Brad Ramsdale, agronomy professor.

This semester, Taylor is assisted by eight student employees who ensure all animals are fed and watered. These include goats, the cow herd, cull cows used for the artificial insemination schools, and feedlot steers and heifers.

Veterinary technician students, many of whom have limited, if any, experience with large animals, learn skills such as giving vaccinations, IV’s, treating for parasites, drawing blood samples, castrating or neutering animals, and much more.

State Agriculture Director Steve Wellman, who graduated in production agriculture from NCTA’s predecessor, the University of Nebraska School of Technical Agriculture in Curtis, reports that agriculture adds more than $21 billion to Nebraska’s economy each year.

On a per capita basis, Nebraska agriculture generates more revenue from agricultural commodities than any other state in the U.S.  Thank you ag producers and all supporting industries.

Have a great week in agriculture!

Part of the University of Nebraska system, the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture is a two-year institution with a statewide mission of preparing students for successful careers in agriculture, veterinary technology and related industries. NCTA is known for its affordable tuition, high job-placement rate for its graduates, and for the success of student teams in competitive activities including crops judging, ranch horse events, livestock judging, shotgun sports, stock dog trials, and intercollegiate rodeo. The college is consistently ranked as one of the best two-year schools in the nation.

NCTA Events:

March 15-19:  Spring Break, no classes, offices open

March 21-27:  National Agriculture Week

March 27-28:  NCTA Sherman Tegtmeier Reining & Horsemanship Clinic, LTC

April 2-4: Punchy in Pink Spring Roundup Open & Collegiate Horse Show, McCook (fairgrounds)

April 10-11:  NCTA Stock Dog Trials, Stockville (fairgrounds)

April 12: NCTA Discovery Days, 8:30 a.m., Nebraska Agriculture Industry Education Center

May 6: NCTA Graduation, 1:30 p.m., outdoors near Ag Hall