Zach Steensma—Staff Writer
On the evening of March 2, current and former students and faculty of the Dordt Agriculture program came together to celebrate the department’s 40th Anniversary.
It was an evening of reminiscence, a time of looking back on the legacy of Dordt agriculture, as well as ahead to the future endeavors of the program.
The Dordt College Agriculture department first began in 1977, when then Dordt College President Rev. BJ Haan asked Dr. Duane Bajema to start the Agriculture program.
Initially, when offered the position, Bajema turned down the offer, but would later change his mind.
“People approached me and asked me to reconsider,” Dr. Bajema said. “Oftentimes the Holy Spirit works through people around you.”
Today, the various Agriculture degrees offered by Dordt are among the top five most popular programs of study on campus. Dordt remains one of only a few Christian colleges to offer an accredited four-year Agriculture degree.
The creation of the program stemmed out of an existing interest in studying agriculture among students, and eventually led to the implementation of the Ag program and the creation of the Agriculture Stewardship Center, located just a few miles north of campus off of highway 75.
The evening began with an opening prayer and a slideshow featuring pictures from the Ag Department archives. Dordt Farm Manager Mike Schouten took attendants through old photographs of past classes, professors and, of course, past Ag Days—an event which remains an annual campus tradition to this day.
Following the slideshow presentation, Professor Gary DeVries took some time to talk about the construction of the new Ag Stewardship center that will be located just north of the current center, on Dordt farm property.
The new facility, which is already under construction, is expected to be open for use this coming fall semester in 2018. Blueprints were on display in the lobby alongside refreshments.
The event also served as a celebration honoring the work of Dr. Bajema, who is retiring at the conclusion of this school year. Friends and family took advantage of the “open mic” period as an opportunity to share stories of Dr. Bajema, both in person and by way of letters mailed to the department and read by members of the Dordt Ag Club, who hosted the event.
Bajema was given the opportunity to speak about his hopes for the future of the Agriculture program.
“My vision for the department would be that it would strengthen in providing students the opportunity to think as Christians. Also that it would provide a Christian voice, that the Holy Spirit can work through to help students critique and examine agriculture as a whole.”
President Hoekstra was among those to speak at the Ag Department 40th Anniversary Celebration (Photo: Wendi Jo Vande Voort)