Neb tech college recognizes ag leaders

Curtis, Neb. – Graduates and agricultural leaders were recently honored by the University of Nebraska at the 50th anniversary celebration of the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture in Curtis.

Five decades of technical agriculture education was applauded by Stan Matzke, keynote speaker at the NCTA program. Matzke, now of Lincoln, served as the first superintendent of the “tech school” from 1965-1968. He outlined the challenges in starting the new post-secondary institution on a bare-bones budget.

“For example, when we added the veterinary technology program in 1968, we needed equipment and resources,” Matzke recalls. “We took the old dairy barn and made classrooms in the hay mow. We were called a baling wire outfit – using items left from the University of Nebraska surpluses.”

With Jerry Huntwork, assistant superintendent, and Buzz Cole, facilities manager, the three men drove to Lincoln to load equipment no longer used by the University’s dental college.

“We spent all day there, and got 90-some lockers, leaded walls for the x-ray room, and a lot of materials which we used to renovate the old dairy barn,” Matzke said. Cole and Huntwork, both of Curtis, were recognized by NCTA Dean Ron Rosati.

Rosati saluted efforts of predecessors in administration and staff, including program participants Elaine Siminoe on behalf of her husband, Bill, Jerry Sundquist, who was an interim dean, and Weldon Sleight, NCTA dean from 2006-2012.

“It’s been my privilege to serve as the most recent custodian of this outstanding institution,” Rosati said.

The college recognized special efforts of Ann Ramm Bruntz of Friend, a 1971 graduate of the UNSTA vet tech program. Bruntz will be retiring in March from her role in development with the University of Nebraska Foundation. She has been instrumental in working with three administrators for improvements to the campus.

University of Nebraska President Hank Bounds sent greetings to the anniversary, and was joined by Ronnie Green, NU vice president for agriculture and natural resources.

“NCTA is on an impressive trajectory, with growth in enrollment, innovative academic programs and new and upgraded facilities that are serving students and our state,” the pair said in written remarks. “NCTA’s future is bright. Congratulations on a successful first 50 years, and we’re excited to see what the next 50 will bring.”

Kim Mortensen of Curtis serves as president of the UNSTA-NCTA Alumni Association, which also represents members of the NSA and UNSA high school years from 1913-1968. Alumni board members are planning a reunion in Curtis on June 11, 2016. It will be open to the public and all graduates.