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 contact us for employment and internship opportunities.

In 2018, the WCROC welcomed:


  • Glenda Pereira, Graduate Student
  • Hannah Phillips, Graduate Student
  • Kirsten Sharpe, Graduate Student
  • Grace Kopitzke
  • Joe Loija
  • Hannah Retzer
  • Jacqui Vargas


  • Andrew Lindor, Landscape Assistant
  • Alex Carroll, Low Tunnel Strawberry Intern
  • Becca Gomez, Grit Weeding Intern
  • Kallan Sandahl
  • Zachary Seeman

Maintenance & Plots

  • Aspen Cardwell
  • Kellen Erdahl
  • Sam Liljenquist

Renewable Energy

  • Adriana Alvarez De la Hoz, Graduate Student
  • Siane Luzzi, Graduate Student
  • Jena DeRung
  • Anjini Gupta
  • Sam Putlak


  • Julia Holen, Graduate Student
  • Brigit Lozinski
  • Morgan Mathews
  • Cody O'Halloran

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.