The Natural Resources Program at Central Lakes College and the Baxter Field Office of the National Resource Conservation Service were honored Wednesday with the Chief’s Field Office National Earth Team Volunteer Award. This national award, handed out by the United States Department of Agriculture, recognizes the outstanding work of only one group of volunteers from across the nation.
The unique partnership project stems back to 2019 when Natural Resources students and the Baxter NRCS field office spent a day on a producer’s facility near Jenkins. Students took part in silvopasturing projects, pasture assessments, and toured the dairy farm operations. NRCS field office staff organized the day and brought in a variety of resource professionals to work with students, giving them a very broad perspective on the issues discussed.
“The goal was to incorporate agriculture experiences into our program,” said Kent Montgomery, Natural Resources instructor. “This was a great start and we are adding more experiences, including working to develop a stackable certificate for our NR students that would allow them direct entry into a NRCS position with their two-year degree from CLC.”
Keith Olander, Executive Director of AgCentric and Agricultural Partnerships with Minnesota State and Central Lakes College added, “I am thrilled to be a catalyst and supporter of the NR program as instructors Kent & Bill engage students directly with agriculture producers! Our relationship with NRCS is growing in a positive way to serve our students for their long-term success.”