MAYVILLE, N.D. — Mayville State University hosted around a dozen Thompson, N.D., High School students on Tuesday, April 27, as a part of its Agribusiness Activity Day. Students took a tour of the campus before learning about several facets of the livestock industry and about drone technology from professors.

“It’s definitely opened my eyes up to all of the options in agribusiness and all of the different sides of it — more than just farming and more than just business — it’s a collaboration of both of them together,” said Isaak McHugo, a student at Thompson High School.

This was the third Agribusiness Activity Day hosted by Mayville State University this year.

Mayville State is a public university under the North Dakota University System, located in Traill County in eastern North Dakota. Classes there began in 1889 at what was then Mayville Normal School, a teachers college. Additional academic programs were added over the years, and the school became Mayville State University in 1987. Mayville State launched its new agribusiness degree program in 2021.

“It’s outstanding,” said Mayville State University President Brian Van Horn of the university’s added focus on agriculture. “It’s really a part of our background and our heritage here at Mayville State University. Our new degree program in agribusiness really complements this university and the community. Many of our students come from rural backgrounds at our small university, so it’s really exciting.”

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Mayville State University president Brian Van Horn (left) and Ted Stoa, Mayville State University assistant professor in the division of business and coordinator for the agribusiness degree program (right). (Mike Spieker / Agweek)
Mayville State University president Brian Van Horn (left) and Ted Stoa, Mayville State University assistant professor in the division of business and coordinator for the agribusiness degree program (right). (Mike Spieker / Agweek)
Recognizing that agriculture is an ever-evolving and adapting industry, Van Horn added that the university’s new program will highlight the industry’s latest technologies and trends.

“I’m a guy that owns my own farm. Some of my equipment is antique, if you will … two-cylinder John Deeres and those sort of things are what I grew up around. No longer is that farming; that’s really a hobby. In today’s day and world, you have to know the technologies to really compete in a global market," he said.

“Agribusiness is really agriculture in business and our degree program really emphasizes all areas of agriculture today,” added Ted Stoa, assistant professor in the division of business and coordinator for the agribusiness degree program. “We are not only preparing these students for continuing the farm or the ranch, we are also training them and giving them the education of other areas of business that closely supports agriculture. That could be the technology area, that could be seed sales, soil sampling and analysis. There are so many jobs that tie in with agriculture today. We think this agribusiness degree option really fits our student body and this area."

The agribusiness degree program started in the spring semester of 2021 with just a handful of students. However, Stoa expects that to increase for the upcoming fall semester. The program consists of a curriculum that is roughly half science and technology-based and half business-based.

Mayville State University hosted an Agribusiness Activity Day on Tuesday for student of Thompson High School. (Mike Spieker / Agweek)
Mayville State University hosted an Agribusiness Activity Day on Tuesday for student of Thompson High School. (Mike Spieker / Agweek)
The program also concentrates on international business sales.

“That’s a big part of agriculture in North Dakota today,” said Stoa. “The reality of today is that for the son or daughter that grew up on a farm and want to continue in the farming industry on that family farm, a lot of times in the immediate future, they have to find other jobs that are associated with agriculture for income that helps balance the farm income when it’s split in different areas. We feel that it’s crucial for students to get the skill set that is necessary for them to be successful in those related areas and also to be able to run the farm and ranch efficiently and profitably well into the future.”