Dordt dedicates the Agriculture Stewardship Center

Space provides a place that facilitates 21st-century learning in ag and manufacturing

On Saturday morning, October 20, the bright open meeting room of Dordt College’s new Agricultural Stewardship Center was overflowing with people. Nearly 500 students, alumni, faculty, staff, and community members gathered for the dedication of the new center as part of Dordt’s 2018 Defender Days celebration. In the front of the room stood a platform, where the speakers sat beneath a slideshow of images of the new building. The excitement in the room was palpable.

“It is a tremendous honor to be back here in Sioux County, to help dedicate the Agricultural Stewardship Center,” said Mike Naig, Iowa’s deputy secretary of agriculture. “God made Iowa for agriculture. You don’t have to look far in our state to see that. But we have a responsibility to steward that wonderful creation, and to create the talent we know we need. That’s why this building is so incredibly important.”

Gary De Vries, Dordt’s division chair for biology and environmental studies, said that the building provides a place that facilitates 21st-century learning, not just for Dordt students, but for others as well.

Two Dordt agriculture students shared their excitement about the new facility. “We as students have been anticipating this day for over a year,” said Alayna Gerhardt, Dordt’s ag club president. “We’ve eagerly watched the progress of this building. I’m looking forward to the opportunities that this building represents.” Bryce Hiemstra, a Pro-Tech student, recalled his wonderful experience with Dordt’s agricultural internship opportunities.

Dr. Joel Sikkema, director of Pro-Tech, said, “I’m thrilled for how this facility is going to promote hands-on experience. No other Christian college has spaces like these. With this building we’ve made the commitment that our program will not just influence hearts and minds, but enable them to serve with their hands.”

After the dedication speeches, the audience was invited to tour the bright, spacious new facility. They saw the high-bay, which houses several large pieces of farming machinery, the welding lab, and the beautiful wood-paneled classrooms and meeting spaces.

The center will be used for instruction in ag, Pro-Tech, and engineering. It will also serve as a gathering place for the agriculture and business communities of Northwest Iowa. Already, the building has been booked for a state-wide FFA event, as well as a beef-quality assurance event.

“We anticipate there will be several community events held here per month,” says Howard Wilson, Dordt Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer. “We’ve been approached by implement manufacturers about using the space for training seminars. We see this as a future meeting place for the boards of local agriculture organizations as well.”

“Dordt has been walking the walk in terms of stewardship of the land,” said Secretary Naig. “Congratulations to you. I’m truly impressed with your dedication.”