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CHS Foundation grant makes BSC Ag active learning center a reality

Published: Mar 22 2021
CHS Foundation grant makes BSC Ag active learning center a reality - Photo
Soon Bismarck State College (BSC) Agriculture, Technology, Food & Natural Resources students will be training in a completely remodeled, hands-on Precision Agriculture lab, thanks to a $70K grant from the CHS Foundation. The CHS Foundation is funded by charitable gifts from CHS Inc., the nation’s leading farmer-owned cooperative. The funds will be used to purchase new computers, precision agriculture software, and classroom furniture that will convert its current lecture-style lab into an active learning center where students will collaborate with their peers and North Dakota mentor farmers. 
The first BSC Precision Agriculture class was taught 20 years ago. In 2014, a designated instructor was hired with funds from a CHS Foundation grant, and since that time the program has greatly expanded to include a variety of courses that provide training in advanced mapping, geospatial tools, remote sensing, and more. Through the new grant, students will be matched with North Dakota farmers to analyze real-life farming issues and offer solutions through Precision Agriculture training. 
“Precision agriculture training is fundamental to future growth in the agriculture industry, and we are excited to see the high-caliber training that continues to occur at Bismarck State College,” said Nanci Lilja, CHS Foundation president. “Through hands-on experiences like this, students will be better prepared for careers in agriculture.”
According to the 2017 USDA Census of Agriculture, there are more than 26,000 farms in North Dakota and more than 39 million acres of farmland. These farms rely more and more on advanced technology to be successful. BSC Precision Agriculture instructor Carmel Miller helps students get acclimated to this newer high-tech environment.
“In this active learning center, students will progress from basic precision ag software skills to team collaboration, in which students will be solving problems and formulating solutions using precision ag tools,” says Miller. 
This most recent CHS Foundation gift to BSC is an outcome of a long, successful partnership between the CHS and the BSC Foundations. Since 2000, the CHS Foundation has invested in BSC Agriculture programs and students through contributions to scholarships and Project CARE, an emergency fund that helps students in need.
“We are incredibly fortunate to have the support of CHS Foundation,” says BSC Foundation Executive Director Kari Knudson. “They have helped us build a successful program that is supporting the ag industry and setting up our students for lifelong success.”