Mike Kotelko, past Lakeland College board chair, left, helped to hold a $100,000 perpetual scholarship cheque to the college, presented by Eagle Builders from site manager Robin Marshall with Josie Van Lent, dean of Lakeland’s School of Agricultural Sciences, and one of Eagle Builders owners, Craig Haan, on hand for the photo op during the opening of the new Dairy Learning Centre. GEOFF LEE LLS PHOTO
Lakeland College proud to host Dairy Learning Centre unveiling
Cows were noticeably absent from the opening of the $9.5 million Dairy Learning Centre at Lakeland College in Vermilion, as the event was held to celebrate the people who supported the project.
More than 300 people attended the official opening of the facility on Aug. 22, with Lakeland board chair Darrel Howell calling it the most advanced dairy centre in Canada.
“Our goal is to be the top trainer of future dairy producers,” he said.
The new Dairy Centre replaces Lakeland’s previous dairy facility with state-of-the-art features in robotic and conventional milking, and feeding systems.
Students will work with a herd of 280 cattle including an additional 120 Holstein milk cows, replacement heifers and young stock.
The 47,000 sq. ft. facility was made possible with the aid of an in-kind $5 million milk quota from the Alberta Milk Board.
Milk Board chairman, Tom Kootstra, one of the keynote speakers, said the additional quota allows the college to ship the milk they will be producing from the additional head of cattle.
The Milk Board also provided funds from the Government of Alberta Growing Forward 2 grant.
The grant incorporated the use of energy-efficient systems and design into the facility.
Marlin Schmidt, Alberta’s Minister of Advanced Education, said the new barn will help to advance the dairy industry in Alberta.
“By having this learning facility here in Vermilion, we’re going to be able to train hundreds of students to go out and be active participants in the dairy industry once they graduate from Lakeland College,” said Schmidt.
He said the province will also partner with other stakeholders to conduct research at the Dairy Centre that will “have a positive impact on all of the dairy producers in Alberta” to strengthen the industry.
“This a state-of-the-art learning centre; there’s nothing else like it in the country,” he said.
Lakeland president, Alice Wainwright-Stewart, called the opening of the Dairy Learning Centre a “momentus milestone” for the college.
“This new facility will help Lakeland agriculture students excel in industry now, and for decades to come,” she said.
The official opening was led by Josie Van Lent, dean of the School of Agricultural Sciences, who spoke about the student-managed activities that the facility will promote.
“The Dairy Learning Centre will be a great model for our students to understand how a dairy operation runs,” she said.
In the future, dairy industry professionals will also benefit from continuing educational opportunities offered by Lakeland at the facility.
The centre will also be used by hundreds of other Lakeland students from agribusiness, crop technology, animal health technology, and veterinary medical assistant and other related programs.
The building was constructed by Eagle Builders, who used the grand opening to announce a $100,000 perpetual scholarship.
“The person who will get the scholarship is the leader of the student-managed farm,” said Craig Haan, one of three owners of Eagle.
He said the winning student must apply for the role to be the student manager, and they will go through a selection process by the board at Lakeland College.
“We’re an innovative company; we to encourage leadership and innovation through Lakeland College,” he said.