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Serving: IA
Kirkwood Community College students harvest soybeans Tim Gallagher
ON THE FARM: Kirkwood Community College students harvest soybeans on the college’s test plots last fall.

2 Iowa colleges partner for ag instruction

New partnership provides Kirkwood graduates an opportunity to become Buena Vista University ag majors.

Students in eastern Iowa seeking a four-year college degree in agriculture may now earn one locally through Buena Vista University, thanks to a partnership with Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids. BVU is at Storm Lake in northwest Iowa; Kirkwood is at Cedar Rapids in eastern Iowa. 

A student who has earned an associate of arts (AA), associate of science (AS), or associate of applied science (AAS) in the agriculture program at Kirkwood will be accepted as a transfer student at BVU with junior class standing. 

“A student with an AA degree from Kirkwood Community College will be considered to have met the general education requirements for a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree, and can transition right into BVU’s Ag Business program.

Students who have completed an AS or AAS can transition right into BVU’s Ag Studies Bachelor of Applied Science program,” says Brian Lenzmeier, BVU provost and vice president for academic affairs. “Our partnership with Kirkwood makes perfect sense, as there is a need for a four-year degree completion program in agriculture in eastern Iowa. We will provide opportunities for students who wish to remain living and working in eastern Iowa to complete their four-year degree.” 

Expands opportunities for students 

Many of these students have used their Kirkwood associate degree to gain or continue employment in the ag sector. By taking online and hybrid classes through BVU and using state-of-the-art ag science facilities at Kirkwood for hands-on learning opportunities in some of those classes, students will be able to earn a four-year degree while retaining their job. The new degree through BVU will allow those students to advance in their career field, in a number of agricultural endeavors, or perhaps start their own business. 

“This is a wonderful opportunity, not only for BVU and Kirkwood Community College, but for students across Iowa and the Midwest,” says BVU President Joshua Merchant. “Our ever-changing world relies on students who are passionate about doing everything from feeding our growing population to building communities, and so many of those solutions are based in agriculture, the industry Iowa knows better than perhaps any other place in the world. It is both humbling and inspiring to play a role in bringing young people together in agriculture as they grow and shape our state as a global leader.” 

Offering more agriculture courses 

BVU is now enrolling students, as many online courses are available. Kirkwood faculty members have expressed excitement at the prospect of offering 300- and 400-level advanced ag courses via this partnership. 

“We hear from our students here as they stay and earn jobs that this partnership with BVU will now allow them to remain in eastern Iowa and continue their educational journey as an agriculturalist while earning a four-year degree,” says Scott Ermer, dean of agricultural sciences at Kirkwood. “This fact isn’t only important to our students, it’s also a great development for the continued growth of our state.” 

The sentiment was echoed by BVU board of trustees Chair Norman Nielsen, who for 20 years, served as Kirkwood Community College president. “As a BVU alumnus, I’m so pleased we could form a partnership with Kirkwood,” he says. “The agreement matches a pair of winners and innovators in Kirkwood, which features Iowa’s leading two-year ag program, and BVU, which launched its Institute for Agriculture, Food and Resource Management in 2018.” 

The partnership will also see BVU’s ag majors visiting Kirkwood for hands-on experiences. “BVU ag students will visit Kirkwood on occasion to participate in hands-on instruction at Kirkwood,” Lenzmeier says. “Kirkwood has a working farm, animal and animal-husbandry facilities on a scale we’re excited to tap into.” 

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