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College one of only two of its kind in nation


Nestled among the hills of Curtis, the school campus has always been a one-of-a-kind entity in Nebraska’s educational and agricultural environment.

Crops, livestock, agricultural management, animal health, and rural learning opportunities have been a focus since the institution first opened in 1913. Back then, the Nebraska School of Agriculture was a high school for students from western Nebraska communities who did not have formal education beyond the eighth grade.

A century later, the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture (NCTA) has a unique calling in the University of Nebraska system. With a statewide mission, we focus on tangible learning activities and hands-on education relevant to modern agricultural careers.

Students can earn a college degree, right here in south central Nebraska, in one of four main programs areas: Agribusiness Management Systems, Animal Science and Agriculture Education, Agronomy and Horticulture and Veterinary Technology.

NCTA is one of just two colleges remaining in the United States specifically dedicated to teaching agriculture in a two-year college setting. Obviously, programs have changed significantly in 100 years. The college’s population and facilities have grown a great deal in just the last few years alone. New facilities and new programs attract students.

Last fall, enrollment was up 28 percent from the year before, with 384 students enrolled in classes full-time, part-time or dual-credit programs with high schools. I accredit the uptick in numbers to students recognizing the quality academic programs we offer, increases in scholarships and financial aid, strong recruitment and outreach, and an emphasis on practical skills for the modern workforce.

Career opportunities for workforce development in agricultural fields and support industries prompted NCTA to launch new programs such as the Irrigation Technician Training and a certificate program in conjunction with Reinke Manufacturing.

Students with goals of owning their own farm or ranch someday, or managing enterprises in equine production, for example, are prepared in capstone courses. Since 2007, NCTA has offered the 100 Cow and 100 Acre Ownership Advantage programs.

Our agribusiness management faculty receives more inquiries from interested employers than we have graduates. Across the board, we hear strong demand for professionals trained at NCTA.

Momentum is also gaining for students interested in agricultural education careers. Nebraska’s need for Ag teachers in FFA programs prompted our 2+2 program. Students can study welding, meat science, crop science, veterinary technology, Ag marketing and business, livestock management, and basic mechanics before transferring to UNL for the next two years. This includes student teaching.

Also, in a combined on-campus/online program, students can now earn a Bachelor's of Applied Science (BAS) from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Online. This is the first time students can earn 4-year degrees while residing in Curtis or commuting from nearby.

NCTA Aggie graduates live throughout the Midwest, working in successful careers in production, business, health, education, research and industry. It is a goal of UNL's NCTA program to continue to foster students who become dependable, skilled, and knowledgeable for the future of our state's job opportunities and economy.

About the Author

Dr. Don Rosati
Dean, Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture

Rosati received his bachelor and masters degrees in agricultural education from Cornell University and his doctorate in agricultural education from Iowa State University. He previously was provost of Southeast Missouri State and served as dean of the College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Human Sciences at Texas A&M University-Kingsville.

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