The development of two agriculture learning centres is said to put Lakeland College in the lead by industry and education standards.
Dignitaries, industry partners, and Lakeland alumni, students, employees celebrated the start of construction of the $9.5 million Dairy Learning Centre (DLC) and $7.1 million Animal Health Clinic on Wednesday, April 26, at the Vermilion campus’ Student-Managed Farm (SMF).
“This is such an exciting day for us. It is a milestone in terms of being the only post-secondary place that has education for dairy learning in western Canada,” said Lakeland College President and CEO Alice Wainwright-Stewart. “When you start to provide some of the innovative equipment and opportunities for teaching and learning that are going to happen at this dairy facility, it is going to bring people from all over.”
The new DLC will measure by 47,000 square feet by fall of this year, and be utilized by more than 400 agricultural sciences students. It will also house a Holstein dairy herd of 280, including 120 milk cows, replacement heifers, and young stock. As well as, a meeting space fit for 25 people, public viewing mezzanine, or “partial floor” located between the ground floor and first floor, a traditional milking parlour and a robotic milking system, and focus on cow comfort for higher output production, animal care, and safety and transition cow management.
Energy efficient systems and design are also part of the new DLC, through the Government of Alberta Growing Forward 2 grant.
“Lakeland College has been a leader in Canada for Agriculture learning, teaching for innovation, research and technology. I visited the college about a year ago, and took a tour of their animal health facilities and dairy barns. They made a compelling case that they needed to upgrade the facility,” said Member of Parliament for Lakeland Shannon Stubbs.
It was gratifying for Stubbs see the funding come through, as the shift in federal government postponed funding applications, she added.
“I and my office were happy to work with the college and other partners to put this project on the priority list of the government,” Stubbs said. “It is really owing to the leadership, passion and commitment of the executive members, board of governors, leadership team and the students, who are all strong advocates for this college and for this project in particular.”
The student-designed DLC was led by five guiding principles including Safe student and industry training, Maximize automation and minimizes environmental impact, Transition cow management, Cow comfort and animal care, and Bio security, said Maryje Bikker, a second-year dairy major in the animal science technology diploma program and SMF dairy team leader.
“As a group, we got to be a part of the design and building of this barn,” Bikker said. “We were included in industry meetings, building proposal meetings, and had the opportunity to put our own input in and hear professional opinions on things that should be built into the barn and why.”
She added her favourite part of the new dairy facility is the addressment of the ‘old fashioned’ way of taking care of animals, while introducing the future with the parlor and robotics.
“It has been a long time coming, and it feels good to be a part of the group who gets to be the face of it. I know a lot of work has been put in and we are all thankful the future of the dairy industry is going to be in the best hands, thanks to this new facility,” she said.
Alberta Milk was also a key contributor to the development of the DLC , with the additional of a provided $5 million milk quota.
Lakeland’s current dairy facility can produce approximately 55 kilograms of milk, according to Alberta Milk Chairman Gezinus Martens. With the upgrades to the DLC , Alberta Milk gave them the use for 120 kilograms of extra quota, which relates to a value of almost $5 million.
“It is very important for the dairy industry to be a part of this because it is all about bringing the industry forward,” Martens said. “I think our dairy industry is responsible for the success of the next generation, and you can make that happen by providing the right tools to succeed.”
In the meantime, the Sheep and Cattle facility will be fitted for a modern 14,531 square foot Animal Health Clinic by early 2018. The renovation will allow Lakeland to double enrollment in the animal health technology and veterinary medical assistant programs, and offer new lab spaces, allow a wider variety of animal care, significant exposure to animal and food production, and animal handling.
“In terms of strategic planning for our school, we recognized the need and the importance of both of a new animal health clinic and new dairy learning facility in the last seven years,” said School of Agricultural Sciences dean Josie Van Lent, who added the planning process for both projects took about three years to complete.
“We quickly realized that they no longer represented where industry was at, and we had fallen behind.”
Each project received funding from the Government of Canada’s Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund. Both projects have more than half of the funding in place with the remaining funds to be raised through Leading. Learning. The Lakeland Campaign. This campaign builds on Lakeland’s solid foundation to expand student success and leadership initiatives.
Source: Lakeland Standard