Tag Archives: NCTA Curtis

Curtis, Neb. — The Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture will distribute $200,000 in federal stimulus funding to support students facing financial challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


The funds were provided by the U.S. Department of Education through the CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) and are designed to prioritize aid to students based on their socioeconomic circumstances.


“We want to do anything we can to lessen the impact of COVID-19 on our students, and that includes easing the financial impact,” said Kelly Bruns, interim dean of the college. “Our students are always our No. 1 priority.”


NCTA students can receive CARES funds in one of two ways:

  • About three-fourths of the federal funds will be distributed to students via direct grants, based upon their demonstrated need as calculated by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid previously submitted for the 2019-20 academic year. Students eligible for these funds will receive an email from the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid indicating that they qualify for this grant, and they will need to fill out a simple form indicating they were adversely financially impacted by COVID-19. Those grants will begin to be distributed by May 8.
  • The remaining funds will be distributed in the form of emergency grants to cover unexpected costs such as housing, food, technology, or health care that resulted from the pandemic. Students will receive an email indicating that they may qualify. To apply for those funds, students should login to their MyNCTA portal and click on the financial aid tab, where they will find a link to an application. There is no deadline to apply for an emergency grant, but students are urged to apply as soon as possible because funds are limited.  Eligibility will be determined based on guidance from the U.S. Department of Education and requests will be reviewed promptly.


For information, see https://ncta.unl.edu/scholarships-and-financial-aid-programs or leave a message for NCTA Financial Aid Coordinator Krista Williams at 308-367-5207.


Part of the University of Nebraska system, the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture is a two-year institution with a statewide mission of preparing students for successful careers in agriculture, veterinary technology and related industries.


NCTA is known for its affordable tuition, high job-placement rate for its graduates, and for the success of student teams in numerous competitive activities including crops judging, ranch horse events, livestock judging, shotgun sports, stock dog trials, and intercollegiate rodeo. The college is consistently ranked as one of the best two-year schools in the nation.

CURTIS, Neb. – When FFA students across Nebraska were unable to give speeches as their Nebraska State FFA Convention in Lincoln was canceled in early April, a college ag teacher said “let’s go virtual!”


Doug Smith, associate professor of animal science and agriculture education at the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture in Curtis, pitched his proposal to the Nebraska Department of Education and State FFA leaders.


All gave an enthusiastic thumbs up for the virtual challenge.


“Our goal was to offer high school FFA students an opportunity to give their state-qualifying speeches from District Leadership Development Events in February and March,” said Smith.


Within a week, 48 FFA students signed up as Smith assigned each a time slot for virtual Zoom presentations on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday mornings of this past week.


“I was surprised at how quickly it all came together for the students,” said Ashtyn Vivion, Alliance FFA advisor and a former Nebraska State FFA officer. “My three state qualifiers jumped at the chance to give their speeches.”


Due to coronavirus pandemic health directives closing the NCTA campus and high schools, the judges, students and FFA leaders connected virtually.


Professor Smith was at his kitchen table in Curtis, where he maneuvered two contest Zoom rooms simultaneously from side-by-side electronic devices. Participants were from FFA chapters spanning all of Nebraska.


Eager FFA speakers did much the same at Smith, speaking to cameras on cell phones, tablets or computers from their home offices, living rooms, or even the quiet zone in a bedroom.


One at a time, each entered the Zoom waiting room, prepped to deliver a virtual speech with no one present other than on a screen.


“I am so grateful that we had this experience – they are thinking about the students,” said Brionna Schafer of Alliance. “There is still something I can do with FFA in my senior year.”


On contest morning, two judges in each virtual room evaluated speeches in live time as the local FFA advisor and a Nebraska FFA leader logged on virtually, as well.


“I really liked the virtual part of it,” said Schafer, who tackled the difficult topic of suicide by agricultural producers. “This gave me opportunities to have an extra practice before state convention and to get feedback from the judges.”


Schafer, who will study pre-law at the University of Wyoming this fall, also qualified for state in her first foray into FFA with her chapter’s Career Development Event teams for Ag Sales and Farm and Agribusiness Management.

Vicky Armstrong, Maywood FFA advisor, gave the format high marks.


“I really enjoyed it as everything flowed very smoothly,” Armstrong said. “I saw it from the perspective of an advisor who had students participating and as a judge (of cooperative speaking).”


Her two Maywood students, Kohl Rutherford, a sophomore, and Karlie Gerlach, a senior, were in public speaking.

The topics, respectively, were poultry in the Jr. division (grades 9 and 10) and global agricultural trade in the Sr. division (grades 11 and 12).


Gerlach, who graduates in May, plans to study agricultural economics at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


The week prior to the NCTA contest, Rutherford and Gerlach practiced their speeches on Zoom. They tested the technology setup and acoustics at their home environments. Virtual speaking was a first for each.


“The NCTA event was a good opportunity for the kids to prepare for the state contest,” Armstrong said.


While a format for state LDE’s are not yet finalized, Nebraska FFA announced Friday that Career Development Events will be conducted in a virtual format.


Professor Smith enjoyed offering the virtual event. “These FFA students took the virtual challenge and did a great job.”


NCTA’s agriculture education program awarded prizes to the top five speakers in each category:


FFA Creed

1. Emma Peterson- Gothenburg

2. Annsley Vernon- York

3. Whitley Rut- Arthur County

4. Jacie Wolfinger- SEM (Sumner-Eddyville-Miller)

5. Hadleigh Hoos- Gordon-Rushville


Jr. Public Speaking

1. Mary Worthing- Arthur County

2. Berren Strope- O’Neill

3. Levi Schiller- West Point

4. Spencer Walahoski- SEM

5. Seth Wert- Central City


Sr. Public Speaking

1. Payton Schiller-West Point

2. Lindsay Stuckey- York

3. Seth Daup- Gothenburg

4. Jocelyn Hamilton- West Holt

5. Victoria Perry- Shelby-Rising City


Cooperative Speaking

1. Alex Worthing- Arthur County

2. Abby Scholz- BerMis (Bertrand-Loomis)

3. Morgan Wallinger- Stuart

4.Jenny Goesch- Boyd County

5. John Esser- York


Natural Resources Speaking

1. Emma Ohm- Arthur County

2. Emma Stewart- Lakeview

3. Emma Bixler- Neligh-Oakdale

4. Elizabeth Wilkins- Ainsworth

5. Audrey Reiter- SEM


For information about the NCTA Ag Ed program, see https://ncta.unl.edu/agriculture-education or email Smith at doug.smith@unl.edu.