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Representatives of Northwest, its School of Agricultural Sciences and the Maryville R-II School District broke ground Wednesday on a farmhouse to be built at the R.T. Wright Farm by students at Maryville's Northwest Technical School (Photo by Brandon Bland/Northwest Missouri State University)

Representatives of Northwest, its School of Agricultural Sciences and the Maryville R-II School District broke ground Wednesday on a farmhouse to be built at the R.T. Wright Farm by students at Maryville's Northwest Technical School (Photo by Brandon Bland/Northwest Missouri State University)

Aug. 1, 2018

Northwest breaks ground on new farmhouse through partnership with Maryville School District

Northwest Missouri State University broke ground Wednesday evening on a new farm manger’s house at its R.T. Wright Farm, advancing a collaborative project with the Maryville R-II School District and setting the stage for other enhancements on the farm property to fuel the advancement of the University’s ag programming.

“This is such an important step forward for the agriculture program,” Northwest Provost Dr. Jamie Hooyman said. “With the intentional bridge that we’re building between this ag campus and our main campus, the farmhouse will be a visual example of how strongly this University feels about supporting, investing and believing in the agricultural industry.”

Northwest is partnering with the Maryville school district’s Northwest Technical School to construct the 1,300-square-foot home on the Wright Farm, which is located at Highway 71 and Icon Road, about two miles north of Northwest’s main campus.

The new home will be constructed just north of the Wright Farm’s existing house, which will be demolished, and consist of three bedrooms, two bathrooms and a two-car garage with an open floor concept and full basement. Excavation is scheduled to begin the week of Aug. 6 and framing will start in September. Completion of the house is anticipated next May.

Dr. Becky Albrecht, the superintendent of the Maryville R-II School District and a Northwest alumna, said she welcomes the collaboration between the University and the school district, noting it’s a partnership that extends beyond the natural collaboration the school district enjoys with Northwest’s School of Education.

“We are very excited to be a part of this,” Albrecht said. “We want to partner with the University but also the community. We feel like an investment in the University is an investment in our community and the local economy. The community supports the school district extremely well, so we’re very excited to be able to give back to the town that supports us and the University.”

Additionally, Ripple Glass, a Kansas City, Missouri, recycling company, is providing Owens Corning fiberglass insulation for the new home. The donation is the result of recognition Northwest received last spring as the company’s Glass Recycling Program of the Year.

“Not only does this partnership save financial resources, but it serves as an example of energy efficiencies in home building,” Dr. Lonelle Rathje, the vice president of external relations at Northwest, said.

Wednesday’s groundbreaking is a key step in several enhancements planned for the Wright Farm as the School of Agricultural Sciences continues to experience rapid growth with an enrollment that has swelled by 53 percent in the last seven years and is expected to increase again this fall.  

University leaders noted the institution’s strategic focus to meet industry needs while describing its multi-phased School of Agricultural Sciences Master Plan. Last year, Northwest invested $1 million to relocate the School to the Dean L. Hubbard Center for Innovation.

Through an additional $1 million investment, Northwest is working to improve the “front door” of the Wright Farm, an active 448-acre farm that is home to beef, swine, dairy and sheep enterprises as well as row and forage crops. Improvements slated for the coming year include enhancements to the roadway, entrance, signage and fencing.

The University’s top priority for the Wright Farm, however, is an $8.5 million Agricultural Learning Center. The 29,000-square foot, multi-use building will allow for research and scholarly activities centered on crop, soil and livestock resources as well as space for processing agricultural products. It will include space for public and private functions such as producer and agricultural industry meetings, workshops, shows and career development events, and the promotion of agricultural literacy.

“It’s really a linchpin project that will set this institution, its students and the community on an unprecedented path of success,” Rathje said. “The $2 million Northwest invested in the improvements shared today are an important first step in laying the groundwork for the future Agricultural Learning Center.”

Beyond the Wright Farm, the School manages a horticulture complex and applied research and demonstration plots on Northwest’s main campus that provide students with hands-on, profession-based experiences. The School offers agricultural majors in agricultural business, agricultural education, agricultural science, agronomy, animal science, animal science-pre vet and horticulture in addition to minors, a two-year farm operations certificate and master’s programs in agriculture, education and economics.

Furthermore, the School boasts an 81 percent freshman retention rate, a 79 percent graduation rate and a 97 percent placement rate, a percentage of the students who earn bachelor’s degrees and find employment or continue their education within six months of graduation.

“The industry is calling for students who are well-prepared, critical thinkers and have highly developed problem-solving skills and that is what northwest is producing,” Hooyman said.

For more information about Northwest’s School of Agricultural Sciences, visit


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