Lakeland College Offering Bison Program In 2022
File photo the Vermilion Voice
Due to a generous $4 million donation including 200 bison from Central Albertan producers Armin and Rita Mueller of Canadian Rangeland Bison and Elk, Vermilion’s Lakeland College is developing a new bison curriculum in their Animal Science Technology department.
The first-time donors are well integrated into the bison industry and are at the sunset of their career, according to Geoff Brown, Lakeland College’s Dean of Agricultural Sciences.
“They wanted to support the bison industry and were attracted to our student-managed farm,” explained Brown, “It’s been a really successful model for us.”
The entirety of Lakeland College’s farm is student-managed, a rather rare model which promotes hands-on learning and allows students to gain some work experience while still in school.
Lakeland College Animal Science Technology will have five programs including dairy, beef, equine, and the livestock program, which will feature the bison program. The bison program will be the first of its kind in Canada.
Currently, Lakeland College is looking for around five quarters of land to accommodate the 200 head of bison, still waiting to be transported. The timeline for the transportation of the bison is unclear, as land is yet to be finalized on, re-fenced, and a facility would have to be built for the program. However, the program will be ready for fall 2022.
“Securing a suitable parcel of land to run the bison on will be critical, so we are taking our time with the decision,” Brown said.
With this donation, Brown sees a lot of opportunity for not only students in the bison program, but with those involved in range management and grassland management to observe how the bison manage the grass.
“We’re thankful for the donation,” Brown commented, “It’s going to be great to expand college land and range management competencies.”