The University of Nebraska–Lincoln has entered into an education compact with six other Nebraska institutions to meet the education needs of youth and lifelong learners in northeast Nebraska and contribute to workforce and talent development to support economic growth strategies in agriculture and natural resources.
The Northeast Nebraska Agriculture and Natural Resources Education Compact was signed during a ceremony Oct. 29 at Wayne Junior/Senior High School in Wayne. In addition to the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources at Nebraska, others signing the compact were Little Priest Tribal College, Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture, Nebraska Indian Community College, Northeast Community College, Wayne Community Schools and Wayne State College.
“This compact will leverage the combined strength of the involved institutions to improve college and career readiness, educational attainment, and community and economic vitality and growth in the region,” said CASNR Dean Tiffany Heng-Moss. “I look forward to working with our partners to co-create educational solutions for northeast Nebraska.”
Mike Boehm, Harlan Vice Chancellor for the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources at Nebraska, said: “Over the past few years, IANR has engaged in many great conversations with the 217,000 people that call northeast Nebraska home. These conversations were critical to shaping our collaborative efforts with compact partners on issues that matter to the success of our students and lifelong learners and the vitality of our communities.”
The goals of the compact include providing education platforms for the continuum of learners in resilient food, energy, water and societal systems that align with career opportunities for an evolving workforce for communities. This will include developing an inventory of formal and nonformal agriculture and natural resources education programming, establishing an open-access database of curricula for K-12 and nonformal learners, and designing education platforms for the continuum of learners that align with labor market demand for agriculture and natural resources.
In response to the increased need for highly qualified K-12 agricultural science and STEM educators, the compact will establish professional-development programs and workshops for nonformal educators, and align STEM teacher preparation programs and curricula with agriculture and natural resources systems. The institutions will establish a northeast Nebraska teacher network program for STEM and ag educators. There’s also an opportunity to leverage partnerships and programming offered by educational entities such as Nebraska Extension, the Nebraska Department of Education, Ag in the Classroom, educational service units and Nebraska’s agricultural commodity groups.
The institutions will also explore strategies to remove barriers for learners to seamlessly transfer among post-secondary institutions. This will involve a review of curricula, enhanced collaboration among academic and career advisers, and the creation of pathways that are linked to agriculture and natural resource workforce needs in the area.
Compact partners aim to boost workforce development solutions for agriculture and natural resources industries in the region through several strategies, which include an external labor market demand analysis for the agriculture and natural resources industries in northeast Nebraska. Skills, programming, competencies and credentials offered by the partners will be aligned with the demand in the labor market. Additionally, compact institutions will partner with ongoing workforce development efforts in the region.
“This is about preparing the next generation of problem-solvers, innovators and leaders in resilient food, energy, water and societal systems,” Heng-Moss said.