Jeff Moran, at left, CEO and President of the Omaha Home for Boys shakes hands with Ron Rosati, Dean of the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture.
From left, Ruth Roose, OHB education coordinator; Jeff Moran, OHB CEO and president; Dr. Ron Rosati, NCTA Dean; Back row, OHB youth Cameron and Nick, and Jeff Hallstrom, OHB program manager-educational services.
The Curtis agriculture college is bringing a little bit of country to the city, and to an Omaha farm where urban youth can learn about raising crops and livestock.
Next fall, high school students in Omaha schools and adult learners interested in boosting their knowledge of horticulture and farm animals can enroll in courses offered by NU’s Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture and the Omaha Home for Boys at the Cooper Memorial Farm, 8502 Mormon Bridge Road.
Officials unveiled details Friday at the farm, located just three miles north of downtown Omaha.
Organic and alternative agriculture course will be offered this fall, along with livestock and carcass evaluation. Next spring, classes will include plant propagation, seed stock preparation and marketing (feeding and fitting livestock to show in 4-H or FFA).
In future semesters, if students obtain enough hours of college credits, they may be eligible for a college certificate or an associates degree. Livestock classes will include a summer camp in preparation for showing and grooming (fitting) livestock for county fair exhibit.
The project is a good fit for the urban classroom offered by two long-standing institutions, said Jeff Moran, president and CEO of the Omaha Home for Boys.
OHB was founded in 1920 as an orphanage and today educates boys and girls, young men and women, ages 12 to 24.
“The joint effort between NCTA and the Omaha Home for Boys is a pilot project for anyone in the Omaha area. It is designed to support locally-produced food, produce job-ready agricultural graduates, and foster social and economic development for youth and adults,” said Ron Rosati, PhD, NCTA Dean. “Omaha Home for Boys is a real gem in guiding young men and women on their life path.
“Our NCTA faculty and staff are fortunate to be part of this new academic venture with OHB, by providing hands-on learning here in Omaha in gardening, horticulture, and animal science,” Rosati said.
The community-based organization includes Inspiration Hill residential care, Jacobs’ Place transitional living, Branching Out independent living and the Cooper Memorial Farm. Students attend various high schools in Omaha.
“The Omaha Home for Boys is excited to partner with NCTA in offering an agricultural academic program on our Cooper Memorial Farm,” Moran said. “We believe this collaboration with classroom and experiential education will provide both youth and adults in the greater Omaha metropolitan area an opportunity to explore an agricultural curriculum within an urban setting.”
Based in Curtis, since 1913, the agriculture school was first a residential high school for 55 years. Many individuals from western and southwestern Nebraska and the Sandhills attended school at Curtis.
When the school became part of the University of Nebraska system in the late ‘60s, NCTA offered an associate’s degree. It is the only NU institution emphasizing two-year, open enrollment programs. NCTA also teaches computer-based online and distance learning courses for high school students concurrently earning college credits. In the Omaha program, NCTA will provide faculty, curriculum and supplies. The OHB provides the site, farm manager and laboratory support.
While Omaha-area schools consider adding agricultural or horticultural sciences to their curriculums, the pilot project helps meet that demand, Rosati said. It may complement the urban ag and natural resources classes and FFA recently added at Bryan High School.
“I see the partnership with NCTA as a win, win, win,” said Jeff Hallstrom, M. Ed., OHB program manager-educational services. “We see the potential in having our youth participate and work on various agriculture projects. For example, we would like to work towards a farmers market where our youth learn how to grow healthy, locally grown produce that can be eaten in our Dining Hall and be sold to the community. Members of our community will also benefit as there will be educational opportunities for traditional college students and adult learners.”
For further information on the OHB-NCTA Collaborative Agricultural Education Program, see www.ncta.unl.edu or contact 1-800-3CURTIS.