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Happy New Year from NCTA's Campus
By: Larry Gossen, Ph.D., NCTA Dean - 01/13/2021

We are starting the new year of 2021 with renewed energies and a fresh perspective for what is ahead this semester at the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture.

The holiday break was just what we all needed to allow us time with families, friends and loved ones.

Campus activities this past week focused on preparations for the semester which began Jan. 11. Our faculty and staff have recharged their batteries. Hopefully, our Aggie students have done the same during their break and are ready to tackle a successful year ahead.

We greeted students early last week with the livestock judging team and coach Doug Smith starting some workouts ahead of their judging season. Their first meet is Jan. 12-13 at the Cattlemen's Congress Judging Contests in Oklahoma City.

Also, the Resident Assistants who staff the three residence halls on campus returned early for their orientation with Residence Life Manager Erika Arambula. Aggie students who live on campus moved back into their halls over the weekend.

Staff and faculty prepared for the Spring Semester with orientation and meetings. I appreciate the dedication of the individuals who work at NCTA and thank them for their commitment to student success.

Our academic team had several "firsts" in 2019 and 2020, some of which occurred prior to my arrival last June as the new dean. I would be remiss to not give each of these individuals a shout out, as well, as they were integral to our teaching component on campus.

For the first time in recent history, several courses in the NCTA Animal Science division utilized teaching assistants affiliated with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Thank you to Haley Linder who taught an animal nutrition course for us last fall and also served as an assistant coach for the NCTA Ranch Horse Team. She resided in Curtis one semester and boarded her horse off campus so that she could continue to enjoy horsemanship and ranch horse competitions.

In December, Haley graduated with her master's degree in animal science from UNL. Her thesis research was evaluating distillers grains supplementation strategies for growing beef calves on a high forage diet. Haley is now working on a doctoral degree at Texas A&M, studying nitrogen metabolism in beef cattle. We wish her well in the newest endeavor and extend a huge thank you to Haley for being a part of our NCTA family!

Additionally, kudos to two individuals who served as teaching assistants fall semester of 2019. Jocelyn Beard and Tasha King were doctoral students who conducted research with faculty at the University of Nebraska West Central Research and Extension Center.

Joslyn was studying nutrition in beef cattle on range conditions at the Gudmundsen Sandhills Laboratory near Whitman. She assisted with Range Management classes at NCTA. Tasha was writing her dissertation on the energetic efficiency of commercial beef cows and milk production. She taught Introduction to Animal Biology and Animal Nutrition. Thank you to both Josyln and Tasha. Also, congratulations to them as they each received the prestigious Holling Family Award for Teaching Excellence last March after being nominated by Kelly Bruns.

Finally, but certainly not last, I extend great appreciation to Dr. Bruns, director of the WCREC in North Platte for his leadership in the interim dean capacity at NCTA. He guided the campus and institutional priorities and employees through our transition period from August 2019 until June 2020.

Thankfully for me, Kelly has continued to be an advisor, friend and strong advocate to me and NCTA during the administrative transition and holds a courtesy appointment as an NCTA associate dean. I am grateful!

We begin the new semester with steady eyes on the health and safety of our campus community. Each of us at NCTA is undergoing a screening for COVID-19 by taking a non-invasive saliva test. For those of our campus family who have tested positive for the virus in the past 90 days, the test is waived.

Together, we can continue to provide daily hands-on academics and leadership opportunities for our Aggie students. Here's to a healthy and successful semester and new year of 2021!

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