Dordt College of Sioux Center held an open house on Saturday for its new Agriculture Stewardship Center. The new facility consists of 26,000 square feet and will anchor Dordt College’s Agriculture Department and the new Pro-Tech Department. Dordt College’s Head of the Agriculture Department, Gary De Vries explains the purpose for the new Agriculture Stewardship Center.
“It has some classroom space. It has a meeting space for 175 at table. We’re hoping that some community commodity groups, or others would see that as a possibility for use as a workshop, or some type of meeting that maybe our students could also be a part of,” said De Vries. “The north half of the building is really designed for classes that are brand new to the program since we launched Pro-tech a couple of years ago, which is an AES degree. We have both agriculture students and manufacturing students which are two different tracts at this point, but that includes a welding lab, a manufacturing lab, and then also a shop area where we can bring big equipment in, and do repair maintenance, or precision ag, or some of those kind of classes.”
When you think of agricultural higher education perhaps either Iowa State University or South Dakota State University come first to mind, but De Vries says Dordt has been able to expand its agriculture program since it first began in 1977. He says there are now seven different areas of agriculture studies featured at Dordt College.
De Vries continued, “We are going to have an animal science emphasis. We have a plant science, which is really agronomy emphasis. We’re going to have ag education. A few years ago we got certified by the Department of Education here in Iowa to be able to train ag education teachers for the secondary level. We also have something called “Ag Missions” which probably…students that are thinking about doing some kind of community development, maybe in a third-world country, or places like that, and they are also interested in being missionaries, but that would fit with ag together because food is a really essential part of that development. We have ag bio-technology. We have an ag general, basically allowing students some flexibility and design their own ag program. And then we also have ag business.”
De Vries says Dordt intends to expand its agriculture programs, especially with the agriculture business and agriculture education curriculums.