News  |  December 21, 2017

Ridgewater AG Program Earns National Honors

News Release

For Immediate Release – 12/19/2017
Contact: Liz VanDerBill
Director of Communications and Marketing

The Ridgewater College Agriculture Department was one of five programs nationwide to be awarded the 2017 Outstanding Post-secondary/Adult Agricultural Education Program at the National Association of Agricultural Educators (NAAE) convention held December 5-9 in Nashville, TN.

The Outstanding Postsecondary/Adult Ag Ed Program award recognizes exemplary two-year postsecondary institutions and full-time young farmer and adult agricultural education programs.

“The excellent hands-on student engagement on campus, in our campus field laboratory, and in the numerous community-supported internships makes our Agriculture department a regional leader,” said Mike Kutzke, Ridgewater dean of technical programs, including the Agriculture programs. “Entering students have access to different aspects of the agriculture industry that helps prepare students for an ever-changing marketplace,” Kutzke said. “The students and faculty are truly outstanding contributors to the region’s agriculture.”

Curt Yoose and Kim Lippert are Agriculture Department faculty who represented the department at the convention. When asked about the award, Lippert said that it was humbling to be chosen from so many post-secondary programs across the region for this award. However, both Yoose and Lippert agreed, that while the award is pretty special, “the successes our students experience are the reasons why we teach,” Lippert said.

The NAAE organization commended the Ridgewater Agriculture faculty for their relevance, rigor and relationships in preparing students for an ever-changing industry. Ridgewater College’s Agriculture students have many options. They can earn a professional certification, complete one of several technical programs, or choose a 2 + 2 path where they complete two years at Ridgewater, followed by two years at a university. Ridgewater has a 100 percent job-related placement, thanks to many regional partnerships with great involvement in everything from agricultural career fairs like the one held December 1 to a wide variety of paid internships.

Ridgewater College is part of NAAE Region III, which includes colleges in North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa. Qualifying young farmer and/or adult agriculture education program staff must devote at least 50 percent of their teaching time to this level of instruction.

This is the first time Ridgewater has received this national recognition although it has received state honors previously. The Outstanding Postsecondary/Adult Ag Ed Program award is sponsored by Monsanto as a special project of the National Future Farmers of America (FFA) Foundation.

– 30 –

Members of the Ridgewater College Outstanding Postsecondary/Adult Ag Ed Program honored by the National Future Farmers of America Foundation with their plaque include, front, from left: Wade Gustafson, Kari Slinden, Tom Lorang, Kim Lippert, Curt Fettig; back row, Jon Barka, Russ Peterson, Nate Lungren, Doug Lind, Randy Barka, Curt Yoose. Not pictured: Erik Hoff


Ridgewater College is a community and technical college with campuses in the central Minnesota communities of Willmar and Hutchinson. The college serves more than 5,000 students through its nearly 100 academic programs and more than 68,000 training hours for individuals and businesses through customized training and continuing education. Thanks to generous donors, the Ridgewater Foundation provides between $225,000 and $275,000 annually in student scholarships, and more than $400,000 in additional cash and non-cash support for equipment, supplies, technology enhancements, and other essentials benefiting academic programs. The college is a member of Minnesota State and is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

Minnesota State includes 30 community and technical colleges and seven state universities serving approximately 400,000 students. It is the fourth-largest system of two-year colleges and four-year universities in the United States.

What to read next