USDA-NRCS, NICC partner to advance ag innovation

Northeast Iowa Community College (NICC) and eight additional colleges in the Community College Alliance for Agriculture Advancement (C2A3) will receive $529,924.48 over the course of the next four years as part of a cooperative agreement issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS).

The nine Midwestern community colleges that comprise the Alliance boast strong agricultural programs and traditions. The consortium was developed under a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the USDA-NRCS and USDA North Central Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (USDA-SARE). NICC is the only college in Iowa to be selected as an alliance partner.

The main objective of the agreement is to realize a shared goal of ensuring quality education and training of field practitioners. By establishing a collaborative framework for cooperative activities, these partners will enhance and accelerate training and adoption of technologies and best practices for improved agricultural productivity and natural resources stewardship.

A key component of this agreement is hands-on learning in the field, utilizing college land resources to model best practices. Faculty and students will work with NRCS field office staff to implement a conservation plan, install practices on the ground, collect data and help inform current and future producers, according to Kathy Nacos-Burds, NICC vice president of learning and student success.

Nacos-Burds noted that the students’ environmental science work will include a field day, site visit for C2A3 partners, students, NICC staff and faculty, and the community. A primary goal of the grant-funded research is to evaluate land and conservation practices for sustainability. The goal is not only to accelerate the adoption of conservation practices through the education of current, two-year agriculture students, but to also disseminate information to the broader community through field days and other college events and partnerships.

The C2A3 collaboration was born out of a mutual desire to provide more ongoing education, training and demonstration to future farm producers and agricultural service providers with the goal of improving the health, and therefore the long-term productivity, resilience and sustainability of the soil.

In addition to working together on applied research projects that advance student learning on their college farms, member institutions partner with one another to share resources, faculty expertise, curriculum and tools which will advance the future of agriculture production in this country.
 

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