Ag student nearly one year ahead thanks to dual credit

CTE Month 2016: This feature is the second of four stories to be released by Barton Community College in February in celebration of Career Technical Education (CTE) Month.

CTE Month® is an annual celebration held in February of CTE community members’ achievements and accomplishments nationwide. CTE Month 2016 gives the CTE community a chance to tell the stories of leadership and excellence from classrooms across the country, and raise awareness of the crucial role that CTE has in readying our nation for economic success and workforce competitiveness.

February 10, 2016
Story and photo by Brandon Steinert

Ag student nearly one year ahead thanks to dual credit

Barton Agronomy major Nick Gerdes knows what he wants, and has confidently taken steps in the direction of his dream to own and operate a farm.

Gerdes is finishing up his first and only year as a full-time Barton student before moving on to Kansas State University, where he will start only six credit-hours shy of being a Junior. Dual credit agreements between Barton Community College and Great Bend High School made this opportunity a reality for the young farmer, who managed to take 17 credit-hours of college coursework before graduating high school in 2015.

“It’s cheaper to do it in high school too,” Gerdes said. “If you go for dual credit for high school and college, you can get through your education faster, get out with less debt and you can do what you want to do sooner. It’s a good option, everybody should try to take dual credit.”

His plan is to work in the industry, perhaps for a CO-OP, until the time is right to take the reins at his uncle’s farm in Dodge City, where he fondly recalls riding around in tractors and grain trucks as a young boy.

However, Gerdes says his purpose comes from a deeper place than childhood nostalgia.

“It interests me to know that farmers feed so many people around the world,” he said. “I like knowing I will help farmers maximize the potential yield for their crops.”

His ambition and drive helped Gerdes rise to the top of the stack of Barton Foundation scholarship applicants as well. He was awarded a generous scholarship from Central Prairie Co-op, which is intended for full-time agriculture majors with at least a 2.5 GPA in preferably Barton, Ellsworth, Rice or Reno counties. Students can apply for the Central Prairie Co-op scholarship or dozens of other Foundation Scholarships online at

Gerdes said he is grateful for the donors’ generosity.

“I’m really appreciative. Every penny counts when paying for tuition and fees, especially going to a university after this, I’ll really be looking at the money side of it,” he said. “Without people like them, many people might not be able to go to school, so it’s really nice that they do that.”

Gerdes also expressed gratitude toward his instructors and Barton’s faculty and staff.

“I’ve learned a lot,” he said. “All the instructors are really helpful, readily available and easy to get ahold of. They help you with whatever you need.”

It turns out that feeling is mutual. Agriculture Instructor Vic Martin said Gerdes is a top-notch student.

“He accepted the challenge of Economic Entomology this past fall semester, excelling both in the classroom and in hunting and collecting insects on class trips,” Martin said. “He interacts well with his fellow students and instructors.  During classroom assignments Nick works equally well independently or as part of a group, which is an extremely important asset in today's agriculture industry.”

Career Technical Education Fair Feb. 29

CTE month will culminate with a Career Technical Education Fair from 1-3 p.m. on Feb. 29 in the Case New Holland Shop in the Northeast side of the Technical building. The fair is available for 8th grade students, high school students, current Barton students, community members and will feature demonstrations, hands-on-activities, refreshments, prizes and photo ops with the Barton mascot. To sign up, contact Denise Schreiber at (620) 792-9324 or by Friday, February 19th.

Nick Gerdes portrait.