Ag Education Center to team with Lakeshore Tech
MANITOWOC - Lakeshore Technical College will bring its ag programming to the Wisconsin Agricultural Education Center, opening soon in Manitowoc County.
The community college is partnering with the center to provide new space for students in the school’s Dairy Herd Management and Agribusiness and Technology programs.
“This allows for more hands-on learning for our students,” said Patrick Staszak, dean of agriculture, energy and transportation. “They will work with local farmers and will see the latest in farm technology. And the partnership will help promote both programs.”
The tech school expects to move into the new facility, north of LTC off Interstate 43, in January. The center will include a discovery center featuring hands-on learning opportunities through displays about agriculture and a chance to tour Grotegut Dairy Farm, which focuses on sustainability and best farming practices, milking more than 2,000 cows three times a day.
A highlight for visitors likely will be a chance to view the birth of calves from Grotegut Farm in the center’s Land O’ Lakes Birthing Barn.
The tech school will have a building adjacent to the agriculture center.
“Having our facility located there will provide new opportunities for our students to work with dairy cattle as well as develop professional relationships in the industry,” Staszak said.
The school was approached by the center’s board of directors about the partnership, he said.
“We thought it was a good idea and think it will work out well,” Staszak said. Many tech school students hail from family farms, while others are new to the industry.
Like other businesses, farms increasingly rely on technology, including robotic milkers, meaning farmers benefit from higher education.
The ag center is expected to cost about $13 million and open in spring 2018.
Plans call for the facility to have a 300-person conference center and 29,000 square feet of space for displays and hands-on learning opportunities, including an interactive globe to showcase population density and the importance of feeding the world.
The dairy industry contributes $43.4 billion to Wisconsin’s economy each year, according to state officials. Manitowoc County is said to have more cows than people, and each dairy cow in the state typically generates about $34,000 in economic activity.
Advocates hope the center will help raise awareness of the importance of the dairy industry.
“We are excited for this partnership,” said Melissa Bender, director of education and programming for the new ag center. “We cannot wait to see LTC students and visitors of every generation take their education journey through WAEC.”