Nebraska College Of Technical Agriculture Will Celebrate Centennial

Two-year college in Curtis offers animal science, agronomy, agribusiness.

Published on: May 17, 2013

A school site emerging in 1912 on the hill along the northeast edge of Curtis started with a three-story brick building known at Agriculture Hall. That building was the start of the Nebraska School of Agriculture, which was dedicated on Aug. 15, 1913.

A century later, that same building serves as the anchor structure for a 2-year technical agriculture school, known today as the University of Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture.

NCTA administrators, staff and alumni are planning a "Century of Ag Celebration" on August 9-11, 2013, at the 72-acre campus.  A working farm includes 562 acres of nearby land.

When Nebraska's Legislature enacted the educational plan in 1911, the school was to be a high school as a terminal technical school for men and women interested in agriculture or home economics. Students had to be at least 14 years old and eighth-grade graduates when they started classes on Sept. 9, 1913.

Nebraska College Of Technical Agriculture Will Celebrate Centennial
Nebraska College Of Technical Agriculture Will Celebrate Centennial

All facets of high school programs were taught, including what was then referred to as "normal training" for teachers. Peak enrollment of 415 students came in 1946.

From 1965-1968, the school transitioned from a high school to a post-secondary, agricultural technical school.

Through a tumultuous period of state funding cuts and University of Nebraska recommendations to close the school, enrollments ceased and plans were underway to sell the campus. However, in 1987, after public pressure swayed the governor and elected officials, Nebraska's Legislature restored funding in April, 1988. Business and management technology programs were added to the curriculum.

Dr. Weldon Sleight was Dean for six years and led the campus through curriculum and facility additions such as the Nebraska Agriculture Industry Education Center, a new residence hall, a biomass heating project using cedar chips, and an extensive addition to the Veterinary Technology Teaching Complex which includes the Dr. Walter Long Veterinary Technology Teaching Clinic.

Primary NCTA programs are: veterinary technology, animal science, agronomy, horticulture, agribusiness, agricultural education and agricultural equipment. Irrigation technology will soon be added.

Also, a new NCTA program, "Comparative Medicine," is in final planning stages. The 2-year veterinary technology training program will teach students animal care with small and large animals and how animal health relates to human health and technology. Classes will be taught at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) in Omaha by NCTA's Comparative Medicine instructor and veterinarian, Dr. Glenn Jackson.