Dordt College News

Dordt College, Trans Ova Genetics sign cooperative agreement

August 24, 2004

Officials from Dordt College and Trans Ova Genetics signed an agreement Tuesday, August 24, finalizing a cooperative plan that will be mutually beneficial to the biotechnology firm and students attending Dordt College.

Under the agreement, Trans Ova will offer Dordt College students and faculty open access to its operations and production facilities. The access will be offered for the purpose of educational observation and biotechnology student recruitment. To accommodate the plan, Trans Ova will expand its facilities by purchasing 68.43 acres of Dordt’s existing 300-acre Agriculture Stewardship Center located two miles north of the campus. Cooperative Agreement

Trans Ova will also annually award several biotechnology internships to Dordt College students. One internship will focus on developing branded, animal-friendly, pork production systems. Another internship will focus on the use of embryonic transfer in the dairy industry. Trans Ova looks forward to working with Dordt College in training students and providing great job opportunities in this area. Trans Ova and Dordt College will expand upon the partnership with a joint bioethics advisory committee, intended to provide guidance in both party’s respective missions.

“We believe this is a win-win opportunity for Dordt College, their students and Trans Ova,” said Dr. Jan Schuiteman, C.E.O. of Trans Ova Genetics. “Trans Ova needs great team members to grow its animal biotechnology business and its beef and dairy embryo transfer business. This type of win-win relationship is consistent with the culture in Sioux County and the desire to build a cluster of value added bio-technology and agriculture businesses in this area. This will provide great job opportunities to retain the brightest and best students in this area as well as stimulate economic development in the area.”

Dr. Carl E. Zylstra, president of Dordt College agrees. “We’re very excited about this partnership with Trans Ova,” he said. “It significantly advances both our agricultural and biotechnology efforts at Dordt College. This is a giant step forward in achieving our educational task here, benefiting both students and the broader community by providing serviceable insight in a new and growing science.”

Trans Ova Genetics, headquartered in Sioux Center, Iowa, is a world leader in the collection and transfer of bovine embryos. The company began in the 1980s as a division of a Sioux Center veterinary practice, and has now expanded to five stations located throughout the Midwest. Over the years, an IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) lab, embryo sexing, embryo splitting, cell banking, nuclear transfer and other technologies have been added to the company’s basic embryo transfer serves. Trans Ova now employs people ranging from licensed embryo transfer technicians and embryologists to a herdsman who cares for donor and recipient cows.

“This is a good opportunity for our animal science majors to be introduced to cutting edge technology,” said Dr. Ronald Vos, chairman of the agriculture department at Dordt College. Iowa’s economic development director, Michael Blouin, has predicted that in the next two-to-three decades, the biotech industry will become the largest industry in the United States.

Vos said, “Students will continue to have the opportunity to be involved with traditional farm ventures, such as dairy and livestock operations, through cooperative agreements and work study arrangements with area farmers. We will also continue our crop science activities at the Agriculture Stewardship Center as we always have.”

Dordt College is one of just a handful of Christian liberal arts colleges that offers the choice of four different emphases within agriculture major: agri-business, animal science, missions and plant science. A two-year associate of art in agriculture degree option is also available.

Dordt College is a Christian, liberal arts college with more than 50 programs of study. Approximately 1,300 students from the United States, Canada, and several foreign countries are enrolled for the upcoming academic year.

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