You may have noticed the large fields next to the Rexburg Idaho Temple and the BYU-Idaho campus. The 221 acres of land are part of BYU-Idaho’s Hillview Farm.
The farm is used by the Applied Plant Science Department to give students hands-on learning experience. Nels Hansen, the department chair, says the farm is so helpful because many students join the program without any prior experience.
“We’re getting more and more students that are coming from cities, and so they come to our program, but they don’t have a lot of practical hands-on experience, and so the farm is a place to give them that in a safe way,” Hansen said.
The farm is worked on by full-time faculty member Alvin Lusk, one or two student employees and students in the Applied Plant Science Department.
The farm grows alfalfa, wheat, and in previous years, potatoes. Mentored student research projects are also a significant part of the Agriculture Department. In the past, some faculty members worked with Simplot. They did research trials with different fertilizers and different cultivars of potatoes to see what helps them grow the best.
The alfalfa goes to the Livestock Center and wheat and potatoes are sold on the open market. However, the department is careful to not create competition with other farmers.
“One thing we don’t want to do is become a competitor with the other farmers in our community because we wouldn’t want them to feel like they’re paying tithing to the church and then we take that money and we buy a fancy tractor that is somehow better than what they can afford,” Lusk said.
A student and former employee of the farm, Bryen Holloway, says working at the farm is a great learning experience if you have a positive attitude.
“I’d say just as long as you’ve got an optimistic approach to it, I’d say whoever it is that’s gonna go work on the farm is gonna have a great experience,” Holloway said.