Playing leading role throughout Dairy Learning Centre project

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June 14, 2017
Maryje Bikker didn’t just step out of her comfort zone at Lakeland College, she took charge as the team leader of the Student-Managed Farm (SMF) – Powered by New Holland dairy unit.
Maryje Bikker with a Holstein dairy calf
Part of her role was to help chart the direction for Lakeland’s new Dairy Learning Centre, which will officially open Aug. 22.

“I don’t usually go for these types of positions, but I decided to try it and learn what I can. I think it’s paid off,” says Bikker, a 2017 graduate of the animal science technology dairy major. “It’s definitely helped me to grow.”

Bikker and her team of six tackled a number of projects including heifer fertility, purchasing embryos and introducing corn silage into the diets of lactating cows. But the highlight was being a part of the planning process for the much-anticipated Dairy Learning Centre.

“It’s so cool to be able to experience working on this project from the ground level,” says Bikker, who grew up on a dairy farm near Barrhead, Alta. “There are some students in our group who may return home and build a new barn, so it’s great that they get to experience all of this.”

The 47,000 sq. ft. Dairy Learning Centre will feature a traditional milking parlour and a robotic milking system, among other state-of-the-art features that focus on cow comfort for higher output production, animal care, safety and transition cow management.Members of the SMF dairy unit at sod turning

Bikker and her team played a leading role throughout the project. They were involved in consultations during open houses earlier in the year, shared input during equipment planning meetings and then, finally, being on hand for the ground breaking in April.

“We were given the blueprint designs to review and critique, and some of our input was taken into consideration, including stress-free calving, the big straw pack, some of the classroom designs, and bio security,” says Bikker, who’ll continue her education at the University of Saskatchewan this fall as she works towards becoming a veterinarian.

“With all of these opportunities it makes you feel like you’re a part of this project and that you’ve accomplished something.”

Bikker is excited for future students to learn about the dairy industry at Lakeland.

“With the new facility and all of its technology, I think more people will be interested in coming to Lakeland to expand their knowledge,” she says, adding she plans to return to the campus once the project is complete. 

“Since there’s going to be a robotic and traditional parlour, students are still going to learn about the cow itself, how to milk it and (identifying) the physical signs of the cow. But with the robotics side, I think that’s the future of the industry. It’s important that students are going to learn both. They’ll gain a lot of great experience in the new facility and I think they’ll learn a lot more from a cow than they ever thought they would,” says Bikker.

The total cost of the Dairy Learning Centre is $9.5 million of which $8 million is in place. This includes $3.5 in federal funding through the Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund. The remaining $1.5 million will be raised through Leading. Learning. The Lakeland Campaign. The campaign goals are to modernize our Student-Managed Farm – Powered by New Holland, expand student success, and grow applied research at Lakeland. 

Alberta Milk has been instrumental in the success of the project, providing the use of additional milk quota as well as input into the design and future courses.

Photo: Top – Maryje Bikker  with a Holstein calf. Bottom – Lakeland's dairy unit members with shovels at the sod-turning ceremony on April 26, 2017. From left to right are Sydney Fox, Jeremy Kramer, Jan Werner Slomp, Quinn Rogstad, Bikker, and Alex Moes.
June 14, 2017

What Students Say
With the Student-Managed Farm you learn to be accountable for what you’re doing and the choices you make. You get an understanding of what it’s like to be out in industry or on a farm making decisions that count.

– Anthony Biglieni

Agribusiness Class of 2006

What Alumni Say
Lakeland College has been a integral partner in growing our own through the school of business. As an alumnus of the college, I have first-hand learning experience in the school of business. The professors welcome Servus Credit Union to facilitate classes in the Business Ethics course each year.

– Sandi Unruh

Senior Human Resources Consultant

What Faculty & Staff Say
Vertex has had great experience bringing on students from Lakeland College. We have found the Bachelor of Applied Science (Environmental Management) program to provide students with good academic knowledge of the environmental industry and the criteria that governs the land reclamation

– Sean Fuller B.Sc., P.Ag.

Vice President, Environmental Services, Vertex.

What Alumni Say
There is no way I would be where I am today without Lakeland College. It inspired me to be a better person and to get a job in something I love doing. I am so thankful I had such a great experience at Lakeland and I hope future students do as well.

– Danielle Gaboury

Business studies, Class of 2016.

What Students Say
I recommend the UT program to people all the time. The smaller setting Lakeland offers, is very conducive to learning. It's less intimidating than the larger universities and allows for more class interactions and discussions

– Kelly Mykytuk

2nd year UT student, 2017-18

What Alumni Say
I have loved my experience at Lakeland. The teachers are personable, and quick to share about their own experiences. They encouraged me to run with my own ideas and see what would happen; they got excited about my designs, which gave me the confidence to do my best and be more creative.

– Payton Ramstead

Class of 2016, Interior Design student.

What Alumni Say
At Lakeland College you are guaranteed to have time out of the classroom where you can put everything you learned together and actually see that what you’re learning is relevant.

– Alisa Brace

Animal Health Technology, Class of 2016.

What Alumni Say
The friendships I made, the experiences we were provided with, and the welcoming atmosphere of the Vermilion Campus made my time at Lakeland extremely valuable and memorable

– Grayden Kay

Animal Science & Agribusiness, Class of 2016.

What Alumni Say
Lakeland College was a learning environment unlike any other school. It allows students to learn beyond the classroom, and staff and faculty genuinely want to see students succeed. It’s a place where you can feel comfortable asking questions and where everyone has a place and fits in.

– Carson Reid

Agribusiness, Class of 2016.

What Alumni Say
The instructors were the highlight of my time at Lakeland. It made a huge impact on my college experience to have instructors who challenged, encouraged, and believed in me.

– Jessica Cadrain

Child & Youth Care, Class of 2016.

What Alumni Say
At the beginning of my first year, I was really stressed out as I felt I had no artistic ability. But with the instruction and time put in by the interior design faculty, I was able to develop my artistic abilities. Now I am fully confident in and exceeding well in the artistic side of this career!

– Naomi Mason

Interior Design Technology, Class of 2016.

What Alumni Say
I just feel like you get the best education at Lakeland, especially from the time that the instructors can actually spend with you. I like the class sizes too – everything’s been great about my Lakeland experience.

– Dean Coulson

Heavy Equipment Technician, Class of 2016.

What Alumni Say
I do give Lakeland College credit for reigniting my interest and even preparing me for Miss Rodeo Canada. Lakeland helped me to grow enough to have the confidence to think I could take on that role and become that person. I think that I have and I am really grateful for that

– Ali Mullin

Agribusiness, class of 2014, former Miss Rodeo Canada.

What Alumni Say
I feel the professors at Lakeland actually prepared me for the profession. It’s impossible to be just a number here when there are 12 students in all of your classes. When the school advertised small class sizes, they actually meant it.

– Stephen Mark Visser

Real Estate Appraisal and Assessment, Class of 2016.

What Alumni Say
I was involved in the president’s gala in April where I was an emcee for the evening, it was a great experience, and I had a lot of fun doing it and would recommend it to everyone.”

– Lucas Tetreault

HOPE Power Engineering, Class of 2017.

What Alumni Say
I would recommend Lakeland College for the simple fact that it's for everybody. As a mature student who went back to school much later than his 18th year, I was immediately accepted, and not ostracized in the least

– Donald James Shaw

Accounting Major, Class of 2016.

What Alumni Say
All the hands-on learning was great and very helpful once placed into the industry. Having clients leave with a smile after each service assured me that I was in the right field of work. I would recommend Lakeland to anyone.

– Courtnee Coolidge

Esthetician, Class of 2016.

What Alumni Say
The professors care so much about their students at Lakeland and are able to know each and every one of them by name, so much so that they are able to nominate a ton of students for awards.

– Stephanie Wakefeild

University Transfer, Class of 2016.

What Alumni Say
They really put you in the lead at Lakeland. Lakeland cares about its students, empowers them, and gives them opportunities to achieve their goals. I don’t see Lakeland as a stepping stone or a first step – I see it as a bridge and an integral part of my education.

– Alyssa Wells

University Transfer, Class of 2017.

What Alumni Say
I wanted to get experience in the field of assessment as it would give me exposure to what it’s like day to day. It was an invaluable experience as I find it hard to imagine what it would be like working in a particular field or area until I’m doing the work.

– Sheldon Farrell

Real estate appraisal and assessment, Class of 2017.

What Alumni Say
In the campus spa, they give you time to work with each client so nothing is rushed and you’re able to concentrate on providing the best service you can to your client.

– Daphney Couturier

Esthetician, Class of 2017.

What Alumni Say
It’s going to be a lot easier to start our first jobs having this experience and having been able to build our confidence in the campus spa. I love that we get to have this opportunity.

– Darby Watchel

Esthetician, Class of 2017.

What Employers Say
Lakeland is a great place to find employees. The college provides real world training that equips soon-to-be employees with knowledge and people skills that are highly sought after in the agriculture industry these days.

– Dustin Dinwoodie

Key Account Manager – Western Canada Arysta LifeScience