Planting seeds of success at NCTA

Planting seeds of success at NCTA

Students use an insect net to catch insects found in crops at the NCTA field laboratory. (Kathy Burr, Nebraska Extension photo)
Students use an insect net to catch insects found in crops at the NCTA field laboratory. (Kathy Burr, Nebraska Extension photo)

August 1, 2018

By NCTA Dean Ron Rosati, Ph.D.

The Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture is dedicated to offering the best educational experience possible to our Aggie students.

Essential to our goal of ensuring student success in their classes and collegiate experience is a regular assessment and review of NCTA’s academic quality.

In 2017, we started a five-year rotation of program review through NCTA’s five academic divisions starting with NCTA’s Agronomy and Agricultural Mechanics Division.

Nationally, we know that our agronomy program has been top notch in recruiting and teaching students for an award winning crops judging team. Aggie teams have been national champions among two-year colleges three years consecutively.

Agronomy professor and crops judging team coach Brad Ramsdale encourages students to excel in their academic and career goals. As a one-professor department, Dr. Ramsdale teaches a variety of courses for students majoring in agronomy and also in diversified agriculture (a combination of agronomy, livestock and agribusiness).

After NCTA graduation from the agronomy division, students are fully prepared to become certified crops consultants and agronomists, producers in their own farming enterprises, and skilled individuals for continued degrees in agriculture.

Dalon Koubek of North Platte was on that award-winning crops judging team taking first-place honors this year in the individual competition, as well.  He graduated with honors in May, and will be resuming studies this fall at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to earn his bachelor of science.

Over the summer, Dalon worked with the UNL department of agronomy in Lincoln, helping with wheat harvest on Nebraska’s research plots across the state. He says his academic program which started at NCTA may eventually lead him into research or work with Nebraska Extension.

Teammates on the championship crops team are pursing bachelor’s degrees or have entered fulltime employment with their associate of science degree as crops consultants.

The caliber of these students and the agronomy program at NCTA is outstanding. And, the program success is reinforced by input from agronomy industry advisory groups, employers of Aggie graduates, student surveys and the formal review process conducted every six years. 

A self-study done in 2017 and advisory input from 2018 looks at all aspects of a program from goals, curriculum, faculty and student learning outcomes, resources in the classrooms, laboratories and NCTA farm, to program enrollment, retention and graduation rates.

Our focus at NCTA is student success. We prioritize opportunities for students in the classroom, as well as off-site through partnerships with our industry stakeholders.

Students in agronomy and agricultural mechanics are fortunate to have outstanding activities on campus, on field trips, in student clubs, with internships, and resources from industry supporters and companies including with our counterparts at University of Nebraska campuses, research facilities and extension sites.

One example is coming up next Wednesday as Nebraska Extension personnel from Frontier County and the West Central Research and Extension Center at North Platte host the Third Annual Youth Agronomy Field Day here at NCTA.

Dr. Ramsdale and these partners will lead youngsters ages 9-18, as well as adult participants, in a full day of hands-on learning in agronomy-related topics. We hope you will plan to attend this free workshop, which includes the noon meal.

Registration is due by Friday to

Come and get your hands in the soil and plants of crop science and irrigation on August 8. Enjoy exploring careers and all of the ways that NCTA and Nebraska Extension make learning fun!



Aug. 3 – Summer Session ends

Aug. 8 – Agronomy Youth Field Day, 9 a.m.-3 p.m., NCTA

Aug. 17-19 – New Student Orientation, Welcome Weekend

Aug. 20 – Fall Semester begins

NCTA Mission:  The Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture is devoted to a statewide mission of preparing students for successful careers in agriculture, veterinary technology, food and related industries. The college provides open access to innovative technical education resulting in associate degrees, certificates, diplomas and other credentials.


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