History of Nicolas Appert

The founding

The course XVIII –Food Technology- was founded in 1956 under the authority of professor Leniger as an addition to the already existing courses Dairy science and Milk production. In the first years after 1956 there was not yet a need for a study association. This need only arose around the academic year of ’60-’61, when the first Technology students were already progressed further in their studies. Around the time of graduation of the first of those students, the activities regarding maintenance of contacts and looking after interest got some more attention. In 1962 multiple technologists were already graduated and they saw that other studies already had a study association.

From the 25th of August to the 9th of September 1962, the first big foreign study trip of Technology took place, organised by professor Leniger. During this excursion, in which companies in Switzerland and Italy were visited, the study association was founded on Thursday the 6th of September 1962 in Montreux. The role of the lake of Geneva and the fondue in the evening becomes clear from the name that they jokingly came up with: “Die Alkoholverwaltung”. Professor Leniger, who thought a study association would be useful and who also gave some advice, came up with a more serious name. With that the study association got its official name “Nicolas Appert”.

In the first years of its existence, the study association was not very active. This was mostly due to Leniger’s many contacts with the industry because of which he was able to organise all kinds of excursions, guest lectures  and invitations to symposia of the NVVL (Nederlandse Vereniging voor Voedingsleer en Levensmiddelentechnologie, translation: Dutch Association for Food Science and Food Technology) to which the students were invited. Another important reason was the high percentage of students that were a member of another study- or student association. For those students there were already a lot of other entertaining activities.

The sixties

After two years, Nicolas Appert had its first official board in 1964. Untill 1968 there were mainly lectures being organised and a chance for graduates to come and tell about their experience in their field of work and their vision on the study programme they followed. There were also drinks and an annual lunch for the course XVIII students together with the professors and staff members.

The contribution fee was not yet introduced, Technology students were automatically made a member of the study association. It was not yet necessary to keep records of members and all activities were organised by the board.

In 1968, during the board of Peter Folstar, a fresh idea was introduced in the shape of a small magazine for the association. The first edition was released, without a name, on the 22nd of November. Featured in this magazine were reports about excursions, information about Food Technology, announcements about activities and study related issues. From that moment on, people were able to subscribe to Nicolas Appert for a fee of four Dutch guilders (former Dutch currency that was exchanged for the Euro in 2002). The most original name for the magazine was “ ‘t Spruitje” (translation: “the little Brussels sprout”) and it was mr. J.A. Pelgröm who came up with this name. He was rewarded with a can of green peas. Needless to say, the magazine had a green cover. Ir. W.A. Beverloo had the second place for most original name with “Rauwkost” (translation: “Uncooked food”) and he was rewarded with a can of baby food.

A more serious matter was the organisation of a KA-excursion by the board in order to introduce the second year students to food science and food production in an early stage of their studies. The excursions for the older year students were still organised by the section Technology.

At the same time there was also participation in the OCSN (Organisatie van Chemie Studenten Nederland, translation: Organisation of Chemistry Students in the Netherlands), which unites all chemistry faculties and study associations and which is controlled by the KNCV (Koninklijke Nederlandse Chemische Vereniging, translation: Royal Dutch Chemistry Association). The goal was to look after the interests of chemistry students. Because of the increase of the number of Technology students to about 140, the social aspect of Nicolas Appert started to play a bigger part.

The seventies

At the beginning of 1970, Nicolas Appert became a member of the association and board of the NVVL. In the academic year of ’70-’71 the courses V and XVIII (Dairy and Technology) were merged to become N40 (Food Technology). The study associations Nicolas Appert and “De Zuivelaars” started cooperating to organise guest lectures and excursions, but remained in existence independently. Next to that, the ROC (richtingsonderwijscommissie, translation: course study commission) and the Rigro (richtingsgroup, translation: course group) were founded. They took charge of the study related business.

Under influence of the reduced positivity and increasing criticism on the industry and the founding of the new field of study Nutrition, there were less students in the seventies and Nicolas Appert became decreasingly active. The remaining active students joined the Rigro or “De Zuivelaars”, because of which the activity of Nicolas Appert was reduced even further. The connection to the department was much smaller than what it was for “De Zuivelaars”. From 1975 on, the new magazine, Appert (translation: openness or understandability), was focused largely on the activities of Rigro.

The eighties

In the early eighties the activities of Nicolas Appert were still overshadowed by the Rigro. The discussion about the restructuring of the study was the center of all attention at this point in time. In 1982 the Twee-fasenstructuur (translation: Two-phase structure) was introduced by minister Pais. In the study year of ’82-’83 the study Food Technology was gaining considerable popularity. The number of new students nearly doubled that year and amounts to about 75. The memberships of Nicolas Appert increased proportionately.

A group of six friends rekindled the flame of Nicolas Appert in 1982. The group was made up of Erik Timmermans, Rene de Dreu, Feico Lanting, Jos Leijnse, Jacqueline Marijs and Peter Roël. Gradually the activities were being expanded. There were more guest lectures and the magazine “Appert” gets more attention. Also the first parent’s day is organised.

There are more festive events, with the largest being the annual Technologyparty. The KA-weekend was moved to an earlier date and was renamed P3-weekend. It offers good possibilities for timely information about the study programme and related matters. Also, more excursions are being organised. From that moment on there is more of a useful role for the study association, not only for students but also for the department of Food Technology.

At the same time the number of students for Food Technology keeps growing. From the study year of ’84-’85 on there are about 100 new students per year. Although not everybody becomes a member automatically, the membership numbers of Nicolas Appert rose to around 200. In 1984 there are enough active members to start up a number of committees. With this also the organisational form takes shape. The new committees are the ”Activiteitencie”, ”Redactie”, ”Excursiecie”, ”Ouderdagcie” and ”P3-weekendcie” (translation: activity committee, editor committee, excursion committee, parent’s day committee and P3-weekend committee), each with its own budget. Along with the relative calmness at the study front, the Rigro is becoming more overshadowed by Nicolas Appert. Although some people assumed as much, it is certainly not becoming a sub-association. There is a Rigro-meeting (study) as well as an Appert-meeting (activities).

The interest of the food technologists for the various activities increases and the position of Nicolas Appert becomes more established in the study year of ’85-’86. For the first time there is a four-headed board with a general and initiating job. Hans Hillbrands is the president, Bert Hooghoudt is coordinating the committees, Annemarie Spaargaren is the secretary and Paul Absil is the treasurer. The number of members increases to about 320 and the cooperation with Rigro as well as “De Zuivelaars” leads to an all-including meeting. The introduction of “het Smoelenboekje” (translation: facebook, not to be mixed up with the social medium) in 1986 gives Nicolas Appert its personal face and a practical tool to get to know fellow students and department staff. The participation in the national consultative committee Chemistry and Technological study associations (SOCTeC) is being experienced as very informative and helpful. A new initiative in Wageningen is the founding of the local study association committee (StuVOWa). Next to exchange of information they also work on getting rid of common bottlenecks.

From the study year ’86-’87 on Nicolas Appert gets its official status thanks to the association regulations and enrollment in the Kamer van Koophandel (translation: Chamber of Commerce). The number of committees, and with it also the number of active members, keeps growing. The ”Activiteitencie” is replaced by three new committies: ”Lexcie” (guest lectures and excursions), ”Relaxcie” (parties and drinks) and ”Sportcie”. The ”Flopcie”, ‘which maintains the new association computer, and the ”Jubileumcommissie” (translation: Anniversary commission) are also being started up. The latter organises this year’s first anniversary of Nicolas Appert. To honour this anniversary, the first yearbook is being printed.

In the study year of ’88-’89 the magazine “Appert” gets its current name: “Food For Thought” (FFT). However, the study year after that is even more interesting with the introduction of the “vloeiend bestuur” (explanation: a board in which half the board members are changed each six months so there is always half a board which already has experience and there is never a situation in which the board consists of merely fresh board members). In October of ’89 the first foreign study trip since a long time took place. Thirty students crossed the water to England where they visited nine companies.

The nineties

Following the yearbook of ’89-’90 there was “het Lekkerbekkenboek” (translation: the Gastronomebook) in the year of ’90-’91. In 1991 the students of LMT (Levensmiddelentechnologie, translation: Food Technology) could buy a real T30 T-shirt or sweater to add to their wardrobe. The number of active members of Nicolas Appert kept increasing and new committees are being founded again. One of these was the ”Buitenlandcie” (translation: foreign commission) which maintained contacts with other European universities and tried to make FISEC, the European association for Food Technology students, into a well running organisation. This year the annual seminar of FISEC was organised by students from Wageningen. In order to do that the foundation NAESS 1991 (Nicolas Appert European Student Seminar) was founded. In June of ’91 150 students from 12 European countries came to Wageningen for a couple of instructive and very fun days.

In the study year of ’91-’92 the sixth lustrum of Nicolas Appert was being celebrated. The number of Food Technology students in 1992 was 620 of which about 415 were members of Nicolas Appert which made it into a flourishing association. Also in 1992, the ”Galacie” was founded, which organised the first Nicolas Appert gala.

In 1993 the association gets appointed “Het Hok” (translation: The Shack or The Office) in the new building, the Biotechnion. “Het Hok” is being manned by the board “tussen de middag” (TDM, translation: during lunch time) and all members are welcome to join them for a talk or for using one of the association’s computers.

By the end of the nineties, the number of Food Technology students is decreasing steadily and so is the number of members of Nicolas Appert. Despite several publicity campaigns by the Dutch government, the number of students in the technological sector in the whole country is decreasing. Nicolas Appert is shrinking a little bit and a number of committees are either disappearing or merged with others. The seventh lustrum in ’97-’98 is not as widely celebrated as both lustrums before that.

The new millennium

Finally in 2002 the time was there to celebrate the eighth lustrum, for which the foundation “Nicolas Appert 40 jaar” (translation: Nicolas Appert 40 years) was set up. This lustrum was a big success. In 2003 one of the biggest events in Nicolas Appert history took place. The Pre Summer Gala was organised in cooperation with study associations CODON (biotechnology) and Di-Et-Tri (Nutrition and Health).

In 2004 the number of members was greatly decreased, especially when compared to for example 1992 (230 compared to 415 respectively). This decrease is mainly caused by the lower number of Dutch students. With the introduction of the Bachelor-Master system (’00-’01), there is an increasing group of foreign students that wants to do their BSc or MSc Food Technology in Wageningen. More and more of these foreign students are becoming members of Nicolas Appert (NA). NA is trying to create an international image for itself. With help of the ”Integracie” (translation: integration committee) there is active work on drawing the MSc students from the HAS as well as the growing amount of foreign MSc students into the activities of Nicolas Appert during their stay in Wageningen.

This increasing internationalization also leads to a rising amount of Nicolas Appert activities that switch to English as their main language. The FFT, as well as the yearbook, are in English for about fifty per cent. ALV (Algemene Ledenvergadering, translation: general meeting) minutes are made in both Dutch and English.

In the second half of this decennium, the number of members increases again after a doubling of the amount of first year students to 44 in ’06-’07. The expectations are that the number of members will once again pass 300 in the year to come (’08-’09). The study association does however not put as much energy in its international image. This stems from the experience that the international students mainly join for the discount on books and are not really interested in any further activities. This is one of the reasons to refrain from asking any international students to join the board.

One of the current spearhead actions is trying to draw the students from the Van Hall-Larenstein (VHL) study Food Technology into the association. Since 2006, Nicolas Appert is also the study association for this study. In the near future the board will look into ways to realize this. Lastly the ninth lustrum of Nicolas Appert was celebrated in 2007 with the theme “Obsession for Passion”.

In 2016 the name ‘Food Sciences’ was added beneath the Nicolas Appert logo, since this name is more representative for the study. Later, more and more action is being taken to include as many people as possible as active members (people in committees) of Nicolas Appert. This has also become harder and harder since the astonishing amount of members of over 800 makes it difficult to grant everyone who is interested a place within a committee. To create more cohesion within the committees a committee trip is established, where the committees get a small budget to do something fun together for bonding.  Also, in 2015-2016 a new official committee is established: The Edutee. This is the new education-focussed committee of Nicolas Appert which discusses the course evaluations and looks for improvements in the education.

In the year 2016-2017, policy stated that Nicolas Appert is going to again look into internationalizing the association. Especially because it has become clear that after some years the Bachelor would become entirely English. This means a probable increase in foreign members. Apart from this, the preparations for the 11th lustrum started to celebrate our 55th anniversary in september 2017.