Jutted up next to Makoshika State Park, where dinosaurs roamed millions of years ago leaving unique and colorful bluffs, Dawson Community College has expanded its agriculture offerings and experiences for students.

From animal science to equine to agriculture business and livestock feeding and ranch management to ag communications, there are many more programs for the ag students.

“We’ve made the animal science program very hands-on,” said Katie Carrier, animal science instructor.

Carrier is originally from Tennessee. Vibrant and lively, she actively encourages students to be involved in agriculture. “For instance, some of our students actually went through the work to become Beef Quality Assurance certified.

Kolten Hitt, April Davis, and Calder Peterson were the students to earn their BQA certification in the cow/calf sector.

“Kolten, April, and Calder have shown that they understand and are able to effectively demonstrate proper management techniques and best handling practices in cattle health, marketing, emergency planning, and meat quality,” Carrier said.

In addition, Carrier has reached out to the ag community and ag industry.

“I enjoy teaching and wanted to reach out to the agriculture industry in Dawson County, and see if there were ag production operations, in particular ranches and feedyards, along with sale barns, that would have students out.”

 “We took the students to see how A-I work and encouraged them to help out,” Carrier said.

In fall 2019, the students took part in pregnancy checking and learning about breeding at a ranch.

They also had a Meat Evaluation Project and toured Triple T Specialty Meats to see how meat was cut.

In the animal science anatomy classes, students examined and cut through hog hoofs and the diseases, and looked at cattle bones.

Students went to Homestead Cattle Company in spring 2020 to see the facility.

Carrier talked to Travis and Tamara Choat, asking them if the students could come out.

“They have a feedyard and invited students to see what it is all about,” she said.  The Choat’s Custom Feedyard brings in steers to finish.

They also took an educational expedition to Stortz Angus Ranch, and toured Lassle Ranch Simmentals, to see seedstock operations.

Sarah Thorson and her husband, Ryan, and parents, Clay and Marianne Lassle were happy to show their breeding program with their seedstock Simmentals. They feed a growing ration and have their annual bull sale in February.

In addition, the students visited Glendive Livestock Exchange to see how a sales barn worked, and Glendive Veterinary Clinic, to see how animals were cared for.

Students also learned about the Montana Farm Bureau’s Young Farmer and Rancher program.

Some of the projects the students have taken part in are: designing a livestock handling facility, examining the parts of animals and developing a nutritional feed program for a feedlot or other operation.

At the GATE show, the Dawson Community College’s ag department had a booth showcasing what is new in their ag program. They had posters describing their ag excursions.

Carrier had students in the booth with her.

Students Calder Peterson, from Canada, and Jayce Griffith, from Roundup, were helping her in the booth.

“I grew up around farming and ranching and I am working toward a livestock management degree,” Peterson said.

Griffith said he came from a ranch and was interested in a degree in wildlife biology.

Many of the students are involved in the FFA program in Dawson County.

Some of the classes for the associate degree include: Economics of Ag Business; Ag Fundamentals; Intro to Animal Science; Animal Husbandry; Livestock Feed and Nutrition; Meat Evaluation; Calving Management; Animal Reproduction; Range Livestock Production; and Capstone projects.

All those classes translate into a variety of careers to choose from ranching to feedlot production and technical positions in the industry, veterinary assistants, ranch management, agriculture sales, and many other opportunities. 

Carrier continues to reach out to the ag community. She is actively looking for students, and has travelled to high school to talk to them about their program.

“It is important to prepare students for their careers in agriculture, and there is so much new technologies to learn and practice,” she said.

Credits are transferrable to other ag universities for a four-year degree, including to Montana State University and Dickinson State University in North Dakota.

Since first offering classes in 1940, Dawson Community College has developed into a comprehensive academic community committed to providing affordable and open access to quality teaching and learning.