The economy has always been tough for college students. Maintaining classes, activities and life at school is difficult. As I graduated from high school I knew I wanted to work in agriculture, especially horses. I looked at several schools, all known for outstanding equine programs.
WilliamWoods came up as they were known in Saddlebred circles, where I wanted to be, but the cost was too far out of range. I looked also very seriously at Meredith Manor, a leader in equine education with active programs. I looked at Black Hawk East Community College, which was local to home. It came down to a decision of these last two, with the latter ¼ the cost of the bigger school. I was awarded some scholarships and a grant to cover the costs of books and tuition, something that the financial aid people at Black Hawk East helped immensely with. It came down to travel and if I went to Meredith Manor boarding my horse as an added expense. The decision was made to attend the community college for reasons of cost and location and I entered the Horse Science Technology program.
The staff at BHE is very helpful in helping students find their way through the application process. At the time the “new building” was recently done and featured a food area, as well as game room and study areas. At the end of many of the hallways were little coves to finish a project assignment or visit with friends.
Today the program has grown tremendously. No more travel to a nearby barn – a state of the art agriculture facility with indoor all weather arenas, classrooms and nearly 70 stalls provide comfort for students and horses. An on campus dorm is now available, reducing the housing demand for those coming to school from out of the area.
Social activities were many – participation on the school newspaper staff, judging teams and the basketball booster club as well as agri-business club filled the schedule along with classes and labs for some classes. Today several academic societies and other clubs are on campus as well as an outstanding computer lab.
Classes included not only horse management and related classes but also soils, forages, ag salesmanship, animal science and ag communications. This provided a further education into growing the hay, or at least knowing what to look for in selecting it, rather than blindly turning over money. If there is any criticism of the program in hindsight it’s that, especially as agriculture evolved, more business classes are needed. They are there, but not required, and all forms of agriculture are definitely businesses that benefit from this perspective.
Many use a community college as a stepping stone to a university – I didn’t. Education at the right community college is a benefit on many levels. Black Hawk East Community College is well known and has produced many who have changed agriculture. Professors are there often for years, providing a consistent program that works.
Dollar for dollar the time at BHE was a good value. I graduated with an Associate in Applied Science in Horse Science in 1981, and have continued learning via the “school of life” since then.