SIOUX CENTER, Iowa (KCAU) — “Experience is the best teacher.” That’s the method being used at Dordt University’s Defender Crop Program.

Roughly a dozen college students managed 80 acres of farmland with limited input from school officials, and that was all according to plan. Student Brandon Kooima is no stranger to farm work.

“My dad’s been farming for his entire life,” Kooima said. “My grandpa started the farm. My dad and uncles have taken over and hopefully someday, I get involved in it more.”

Kooima said he had doubts about the program at first.

“I didn’t know how things would go,” he said. “I wasn’t sure but as time went on, I realized this is exactly what I need to learn.”

School officials had said how the students learned was just as important as what they learned.

Dale Vos is the instructor for agriculture operations and management at Dordt. He said the students’ mistakes became teachable moments.

“The students wanted to put corn on corn on corn on corn and corn-soybean rotations, most farmers know this, but students are, they like to operate the large machinery and corn is kind of king in Iowa,” Vos said.

Students learned everything from driving equipment to financial planning. Vos said he hopes a well-rounded education prepares students for their future careers.

“When they move into a management position, they will have had some experience that isn’t brand new to them,” Vos said, “whether that’s operating the machinery, or whether that’s operating the financial, marketing side of things.”