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DSU students present research, Ed Schafer speaks to attendees

Former North Dakota Governor and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer spoke to 10 graduating senior agriculture students from Dickinson State University on their importance to the future of agriculture.

Ed Schafer speaks to a crowd at the Henry Biesior Activities Center during the 5th annual Opportunities in Agriculture hosted by the Department of Agriculture at Dickinson State University. (Press Photo by Kalsey Stults)
Ed Schafer speaks to a crowd at the Henry Biesior Activities Center during the 5th annual Opportunities in Agriculture hosted by the Department of Agriculture at Dickinson State University. (Press Photo by Kalsey Stults)

Former North Dakota Governor and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer spoke to 10 graduating senior agriculture students from Dickinson State University on their importance to the future of agriculture.

"Students, you today, are standing on the new frontier," he said. "You are the ones that are venturing out to the new world, the new shores of agriculture. I think you will have an extraordinary impact on the world. I am confident that you and your generation will shape the nutrition and food security, not only here in North Dakota and the United States of America but around the globe."

The fifth annual Opportunities in Agriculture event hosted by the Department of Agriculture at DSU was held Wednesday at the Biesiot Activities Center.

Attendees were able to listen to the 10 seniors present their capstone presentations, visit graduation booths and talk to employers during an agricultural job far.

Chip Poland, professor and chair of the Department of Agriculture & Technical Studies at DSU, said the event was started five years ago for seniors graduating in December to have an opportunity to present their research-a requirement for all agriculture seniors at the university.

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Megan Schwarz presented "Species Composition of Reclaimed Wetlands of the Falkirk Mine" to the audience.

Schwarz, of Turtle Lake, picked the coal mining company to focus her research on detailing three different wetlands.

"I looked at three different wetlands and then each had been reclaimed at different years," she said. "I looked at the plant species composition of plants versus invasive plants. The (Public Service Commission) rules that you have to have mostly native vegetation to bond it or sell it back after the mining process. I just compared the three wetlands."

Schwarz plans to work at Falkirk Mine after graduating but said that it hasn't always been easy being a woman in a predominately male-focused career.

"For the most part it's been good, but I've had a few instances where it's been absolutely horrifying where I go home crying," she said. "A lot of the older generation, I feel like, is a little more resistant to accepting women in agriculture but for the most part it seems like everyone has been good."

Shauna McNaughton, of Weyburn, Saskatchewan, Canada, presented "Assessing the Knowledge and Opinions on Prescribed Burns on the Grasslands National Park" in which she detailed what landowners in and around the national park thought about prescribed burns as a management tool for sections of land.

McNaughton will be working as the editor for the North Dakota Water magazine after graduating and credits her time at DSU for opening so many opportunities to her.

"I know I wouldn't be here without them," she said of the department. "They just opened so many doors."

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She agrees with Schwarz about it sometimes being difficult being a woman in a male-dominant career field but said that it's taught her "to be in a room full of men and still be able to speak your voice."

She said she decided to go into agriculture because of the culture.

"Just growing up and around agriculture it's just a way of life, and you get used to it," she said.
"You like the people.There are so many opportunities in this area within agriculture."

Schafer spoke to the crowd about the importance of staying true to the agrarian lifestyle.

"People are watching you," he said. "They are judging you, trying to decide if they trust you. How you live, that example is so important, as you move forward."

He continued by saying North Dakotans might exemplify fundamental ethics more than most other states.

"I think we have better opportunities than most, that necessity of preserving the pioneering spirit," Schafer said. "Holding onto the way of life of self-reliance, of resourcefulness, optimism, friendliness, courage, loyalty, that independent mind and spirit. We take our responsibilities of providing a future for our families and community very seriously here. That's important and that's the agrarian society. That's the ability to touch the land and understand what is in it."

While this particular group of seniors only have a couple of weeks left until they say goodbye to DSU, Poland said that he is proud of these 10 seniors.

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"If you take all 10 and put them all together this is probably the best group of kids that we have brought through in the past 16 years," he said. "I'm pretty excited."

Ed Schafer speaks to a crowd at the Henry Biesior Activities Center during the 5th annual Opportunities in Agriculture hosted by the Department of Agriculture at Dickinson State University. (Press Photo by Kalsey Stults)
Ed Schafer speaks to a crowd at the Henry Biesior Activities Center during the 5th annual Opportunities in Agriculture hosted by the Department of Agriculture at Dickinson State University. (Press Photo by Kalsey Stults)

Related Topics: AGRICULTURE
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