DEVILS LAKE -- Lake Region State students will soon have a new building for agriculture education on campus.

On the morning of Wednesday, July 22, the college held a ceremonial groundbreaking for the Hofstad Agriculture Center.

The building will house Lake Region’s precision ag program, which was launched in 2014 and has gained interest regionally over the past few years.

“We're going to have a facility now that will help us make it possible to provide quality learning experiences for our students to prepare them for the workforce and to make sure that agriculture is the No. 1 industry here in North Dakota,” Lake Region President Doug Darling said as he thanked donors, legislators and others who made the building a reality.

The building is named for Curt and Annette Hofstad, long-time Devils Lake-area residents, who have farmed in the area. Curt Hofstad served in the North Dakota Legislature from 2007 to 2015, where he was an effective legislator on flood issues and for Lake Region State College. He died in 2016.

Annette Hofstad attended Wednesday’s event and participated in the groundbreaking ceremony.

The college is planning to have students, faculty and staff in the building for the spring semester, which starts in January.

The building will provide enhanced classroom space and a shop that is better suited for working with today’s precision ag components and large equipment.

The building will be next to Lake Region’s test field, so students will be able to apply classroom learning to real world experience with just a few steps out of the door.

James Fisk, a Lake Region sophomore from Doyon, N.D., says he enjoys the ag precision program because of the variety of what he learns and the experience he gets. He said he is also able to still work on the farm and attend classes. Fisk’s family raises corn, soybeans and edible beans in the area.

“I'm excited to be the first class graduating out of the Hofstad Ag Center,” he said.

The project is being funded through private and state dollars. The 2019 North Dakota Legislature authorized construction of the $3 million ag education building. The legislation provided a direct appropriation of $1 million along with some matching fund opportunities and named the building for the Hofstads.

The Community College Foundation, which supports Lake Region State College, launched a capital campaign in 2019 to raise $1.5 million. The campaign, when combined with the state appropriation and other state match programs, will bring the college to its $3 million goal.