Students in the fieldResearch and Outreach Center’s provide a unique platform within the University of Minnesota where researchers, students, and stakeholders can cooperate on projects that mimic real-world production systems.  At the West Central Research and Outreach Center (WCROC), soil scientists, animal scientists, animal behaviorists, Extension specialists, renewable energy engineers, and others can work on improving one or many production systems simultaneously.  These projects address the multi-faceted challenges that farmers face daily in their production systems.   

The WCROC provides an excellent location for students to address these challenges using a system-wide approach.  For example, while studying forages for livestock, students conduct research and experiments alongside agronomists/crop specialists in the field.  Our multidisciplinary areas of agricultural research include agronomy, dairy, horticulture, renewable energy, and swine.  The Center is located in the heart of the prairie, within walking distance of the University of Minnesota Morris campus.  The WCROC also serves as a Regional Extension Office, giving students valuable access to U of MN resources through Extension. 

Graduate and undergraduate students are able to do hands-on research projects with the guidance of our faculty and staff, providing students with valuable problem solving opportunities and real-world application.  In many instances, students work in the same setting as or alongside farmers.  Experiential learning opportunities give students the experience of living and working in a rural setting.

Throughout the year, we welcome the time and talents of several undergrad and graduate students to assist us with our various research projects.  While most of our internship opportunities are available during the summer months (May/June - August/September), several positions may be available into the school year.  

Please visit our Employment page, or contact us for employment and internship opportunities.

In 2019, the WCROC welcomed:


  • Glenda Pereira, Graduate Student
  • Kirsten Sharpe, Graduate Student
  • Allison Bot
  • Joanna Moser
  • Anna Vold


  • Anna Mahoney, Low Tunnel Strawberry Intern
  • Taylor Petersen, Grit Weeding Intern
  • Makayla Moate
  • Amber Paske
  • Luke Petersen
  • Nichole Peterson
  • Zachary Seeman
  • Emily Toppe

Maintenance & Plots

  • Mike Madsen
  • Jeremiah Timm
  • Grant Trygestad

Renewable Energy

  • Adriana Alvarez De la Hoz, Graduate Student
  • Danja Leiers, Graduate Student


  • Maria Lou, Granduate Student
  • Brigit Lozinski, Graduate Student
  • Emma Nelson
  • Tracy Rheingans


  • Kellen Erdahl
  • Grace Lee

Student Spotlight: Kirsten

During her junior year of undergraduate studies at the U of MN Morris, Kirsten Sharpe took a job working at the WCROC with the dairy program. Before that, she had never considered graduate school, nor had she discovered her passion for working with agricultural producers in ways that provide solutions for todays toughest challenges. Now, Kirsten is pursuing her Masters degree in animal science at the U of MN College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences, and attributes the WCROC to providing ample hands-on learning experiences and challenges that allow her to think in creative ways. Read more.

Student Spotlight: Glenda

The uniqueness and diversity found at the WCROC is what brought Glenda Pereira (M.S. Animal Science) to the U of MN.  By studying dairy cattle at one of the few organic research dairy herds in the US, Glenda has had the opportunity to learn more about grazing practices, managing dairy cattle, and precision dairy technologies.  She is advised by Brad Heins, and plans to pursue her PhD at the U of MN.  Read more.

Student Spotlight: Julia

Julia Holen has always had an interest in swine production, but it wasn't until her U of MN internship that she became particularly interested in swine nutrition.  While working with Lee Johnston at the WCROC, Julia was able to experience multiple and diverse aspects within swine production.  She is now embarking on her graduate studies in swine nutrition at the U of MN.  Read more

Student Spotlight: Kathryn

Grazing cattle and group-housed calves is what attracted graduate student Kathryn Ruh to the U of MN WCROC.  While under the direction of Brad Heins, Kathryn has been comparing two different grazing systems using cool and warm season grasses for organic dairy cattle.  Read more.      

Student Spotlight: Adriana

Adriana Alvarez De la Hoz is pursuing her PhD in Bioproducts and Biosystems Science from the U of MN.  She is currently working with Rob Gardner on applications of microalgae in agriculture and the environment.  Read more.