Tag Archives: NCTA Curtis

CURTIS, Neb. – Agronomy students at NCTA now have “the latest and greatest” of modern field technology.

With the delivery last month of a new no-till planter, applied learning at the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture in Curtis took a giant leap forward, says the NCTA alumnus who built the fully-equipped 6-row planter.

Anson Nielsen, a 1999 graduate of NCTA’s Agricultural Production Systems program, is a Minden-area farmer and owner of Nielsen Ag Equipment.

He spends winter months building customized crop planters for customers of Precision Planting®, the company for whom he is dealer.

His alma mater needed and wanted to update its academic resources for the classroom and field laboratory.

So, once Nielsen got the nod last fall from agronomy professor Brad Ramsdale to proceed, he coordinated suppliers, components, volunteers, and even neighbors as contributors and builders.

The new planter replaces one that Nielsen recalls using decades ago, as an NCTA student of his mentor and Ag Mechanics instructor Gary Wach.

“I told Dr. Ramsdale a couple years ago that NCTA needed a new planter in order to attract students to the college,” Nielsen shares.

“So, when Brad called and said he had some grant money to build a planter, I said that’s enough to do what I think you need.”

Nielson, who also graduated in 2001 in agricultural science from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a minor in agronomy and ag business, said he immediately got busy acquiring components.

“A lot of suppliers wanted to donate things,” Nielsen said. He was able to find many donated components or lock in significant discounts.

Components came rolling in such as the tool bar and gauge wheels, back closing and fertilizer system, meters, brackets, top units, row cleaners, hydraulic cylinders, labor and much more.

After he was able to get into the fields in early May, Professor Ramsdale quickly learned the “bells and whistles” of new technology for the Delta Force V Drive system, supplying hydraulic downforce and independent row control for correct seed placement.

The technology is ideal for teaching in real-time or building long-term archives, Nielsen.

“His students could be in the classroom and he could stream that planter as he plants.  All of his maps and so forth they could put up into the Cloud for later use,” he said.

Nielsen estimates it is at least a $50,000 planter. A federal Perkins fund grant of $9,000 kick-started the project.

“The reason I did it was I had been out there at the campus farm with Brad,” Nielsen said.

“I knew what my business’ capability was for this planter, and I knew what a great school it is, and was from when I was there in the late 90.”

A full listing of component donations, in-kind services and monetary gifts is still underway. More resources and equipment can further add to the college’s diversified agriculture and agronomy courses, Nielsen said.

“I just wanted to enhance what these kids are doing, and learning on, at the college,” Nielsen emphasized. “That is the type of planter they will see out in the industry now. It will be a great for recruiting.”

CURTIS, Neb. – Excellence and dedication exemplified by the faculty and staff of the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture are valued traits.

Year-end awards were recently announced at an appreciation luncheon for all campus employees.

An awards selection committee sought individuals who made a difference for the NCTA student body and the entire campus community, said Mary Rittenhouse, agribusiness professor and committee chair.

“Multiple nominations were received in each category,” Rittenhouse said. “I think we all agree that this was not an easy task as all of the nominations not only met the criteria for the award but also went beyond.”

The Excellence in Service Award went to Mark Gardner of the custodial and security department. Gardner is well known around Curtis for assisting individuals on and off campus.

“If we would take a poll, I bet there would not be too many people who do not have a story of how Mark aided them in their time of need,” Rittenhouse noted.

“He is the go-to person to find stuff, always helpful and cheerful,” she read from nominations. “It doesn’t matter what time of day or night, if a student needs assistance with a dead battery or if their vehicle is stuck (on or off campus) they know who to call to save the day.”

Gardner started his employment with NCTA in October 2000.

Tee Bush, associate professor of math and horticulture, received the Bruntz Family Award for Teaching. She joined the NCTA faculty in September 2010.

The award was established in 2016 by an alumni couple, Ann and David Bruntz of Friend, in tribute to their daughter, Julie, who also was an alumna of the NCTA vet tech division. She passed suddenly in August 2016.

Recognizing the extraordinary impact an NCTA faculty member can have on students, David and Ann chose to recognize faculty at their alma mater.  The award comes with a cash prize.

Horticulture program graduate Andrea Burkhardt’s commentary of Tee Bush, her teacher, mentor and friend was sincere and compelling.

“Andrea spoke of her instructor’s passion to not only teach subject matters but also life skills and values,” Rittenhouse said.


“She never made me feel like I was beneath her,” Burkhardt shared. “I always felt like I had a voice and my voice mattered.  I feel that she looked out for me, as well as her other students, more than we realized.”

CURTIS, Neb. – Thirty two Aggie students from the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture in Curtis tested their agricultural knowledge recently at a national collegiate competition in Murray, Kentucky.

Students from NCTA, known as the “Curtis ag school” and the sole two-year campus within the University of Nebraska system, competed in 12 of the 15 events for two-year colleges.

The annual competition is sponsored by the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture (NACTA). Murray State College in Murray, Kentucky hosted the 2019 NACTA Student Contests.

Highlights for NCTA students were Top Overall Individual honors for Kyle Krantz of Alliance and Seth Racicky of Mason City in crops and dairy judging, respectively.

Kyle Krantz won the four-part crops contest with high overall score tying for top score in the math portion, and tying for second top score in the laboratory section.

The NCTA crops team placed third, overall, in crops. Catherine Ljunggren of Aurora was the only contestant among 48 individuals to turn in a perfect 100 points in plant identification.

Seth Racicky won the two-part dairy judging contest with top combined score in class placings and in oral reasons. The NCTA team won second place among six teams.

NCTA student placings in the top 10:

  • Kyle Krantz of Alliance, high overall individual (of 48 contestants) in crops and crops math
  • Seth Racicky of Mason City, high overall individual (of 25) in dairy judging and in oral reasons
  • Catherine Ljundggren of Aurora, 1st (of 48) in plant identification portion of the crops contest
  • Colbey Luebbe of Seward, 2nd high individual (of 12) in horticulture
  • Rebecca Saddler of Aurora, 4th (of 12) in horticulture
  • Jarrod Tuttle of Eltopia, Washington, 4th (of 12) in ag mechanics
  • Baily Fleischman of Tekamah, 5th (of 28) in ag business
  • Garrett Lapp, Adamsville, Ohio, 6th (of 25) in dairy judging
  • Emily Riley of Norton, Kansas, 7th (of 25) in dairy judging
  • Remy Mansour of Petaluma, California, 7th (of 68) in livestock judging
  • Camden Wilke of Columbus, 7th (of 26) in livestock management
  • Jacob Vallery of Plattsmouth, 8th (of 48) in crops
  • Grant Romshek of Shelby, 9th (of 26) in livestock management
  • Kallie Hilker of Cambridge, 9th (of 22) in business communication

The team competitions were again fierce among some of the larger events for individual number of competitors and teams such as livestock judging, livestock management and crops.

Aggie teams placed:

  • 2nd place (of 6 teams) in dairy judging
  • 2nd place (of 3)  in horticulture
  • 3rd place (of 12) in crops
  • 3rd place (of 3) in ag mechanics
  • 4th (of 7) in agribusiness
  • 4th (of 6) in computer applications
  • 4th (of 5) in equine judging
  • 5th (of 12) in livestock management
  • 7th (of 12) in livestock judging

Aggie students apply what they learn in their college classes and experiential learning opportunities at NCTA.

The contest draws nearly 600 students from two- and four-year colleges across the U.S. and Canada.

“The NACTA Judging Conference provides our students an excellent career-based learning experience,” said Brad Ramsdale, Ph.D., agronomy and agricultural mechanics division chair.

“It is great to be part of an event supported by numerous agricultural colleges and universities,” he said.

Along with Ramsdale, coaches were Doug Smith, Ph.D., animal science and agriculture education division chair, and Mary Rittenhouse, chair of agribusiness management systems.

Ramsdale supervised four teams: agricultural mechanics, precision agriculture, horticulture and crops. Dan Stehlik is NCTA’s instructor for welding and ag mechanics which includes irrigation technicians, electricity and engines.

Smith’s four teams were dairy, equine and livestock judging, plus students in livestock management. Animal science faculty are Joanna Hergenreder, equine management, and Meredith Cable, feedlot management and nutrition.

“The students worked hard and competed exceptionally well at NACTA,” Smith said. “A lot of time was put in on preparation and NCTA was well represented by these young professionals.”

From agribusiness management systems, Rittenhouse coordinated three teams with Associate Professor Jeremy Sievers and Lecturer Dave Jibben. Students competed in ag business, ag computer applications, and agricultural communications (sales).

“In addition to providing students an opportunity to test their abilities and skills on a national level, NACTA also provides bridges for our students to continue to develop these abilities and skills in their chosen fields,” Rittenhouse said.

“Two-year students are exposed to opportunities in the four-year schools and in ag careers, as well,” she added.

The national contest was the final major competition of the 2018-2019 academic year.

Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture students earned individual honors for high ranks at the 2019 NACTA Student Contest in Kentucky. (From left) Kyle Krantz of Alliance won 1st place in crops, Colbey Luebbe of Seward was 2nd in horticulture, and Seth Racicky of Mason City won 1st in dairy judging.   (J. Kennicutt / NCTA News Photo)

CURTIS, Neb. – Congratulations to the Class of 2019!

This week we celebrate the results of two or more years of hard work by our Aggie students!

I look forward to welcoming guests to Curtis as the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture celebrates with graduating students, their families and friends, and our campus community.

We anticipate one of our larger graduating classes with more than 80 attendees participating in the 2019 NCTA Commencement Thursday at 1:30 p.m. at the Curtis Memorial Community Center.

Eighteen graduates from December, 2018 are also invited to join the May graduates crossing the stage so we have the potential for nearly 100 students.

With the onset of May, many of our graduates are already looking past graduation and are eager to be out in the field planting crops, branding calves or working at new careers.

Seventy five percent of the Class of 2019 are Nebraskans. Nearly one-fourth are from other states including Colorado, Texas, South Dakota, Ohio, Wyoming, Arizona, Kansas, California and Michigan.

At this time, 17 graduates plan to go on to earn a four-year degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. That’s a natural progression in our eyes. NCTA is part of the University of Nebraska system and we appreciate our great partnership with Dr. Tiffany Heng-Moss, dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources at UNL.

University of Nebraska Vice President Mike Boehm will confer degrees and certificates to our NCTA Aggies. We also will be joined by University of Nebraska Regents Bob Phares of North Platte and Barbara Weitz of Omaha.

And, a highlight in recognizing and thanking our graduates will be a keynote message from Joan Ruskamp, an industry leader and a 1980 alumnus in veterinary technology.

Joan and her husband, Steve, also an NCTA graduate in production agriculture, operate their family farming and cattle feed yard near Dodge.

Welcome back to Curtis, Ruskamps!  We are proud of you and all of our Aggie alumni and friends!

We appreciate each person who joins us Wednesday for the evening picnic, at the awards night program, and for the NCTA belt buckle ceremony. (Treat tip:  UNL Dairy Store?)

Here on our small rural campus, we are like family. The success of each student is important. We value the contributions, diversity, determination and work ethic of our Aggies.

So, a day like graduation is an exciting event for all of us, on campus and in the Curtis area.  We are Nebraska Strong. We are Aggie Strong!

Congratulations to all high school and NCTA graduates. You are indeed a success, Class of 2019!