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April 24, 2020

Construction on Agricultural Learning Center begins with virtual groundbreaking ceremony


With an eye on its future and supporting agriculture education throughout the region, Northwest Missouri State University on Friday celebrated the groundbreaking for its Agricultural Learning Center with a virtual ceremony.

Due to restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic, Northwest invited community members to visit its website to learn more about plans for the Agricultural Learning Center and view a video featuring Northwest leaders and supporters reflecting on the event.

Northwest President Dr. John Jasinski thanked all who have supported the project and said the University’s decision to forge ahead on the ag center is representative of the resilience shown by the institution and the agriculture industry.

“It’s still a time to celebrate all that’s good at Northwest Missouri State University,” Jasinski said. “For more than a century, students in our region have turned to Northwest as leaders in agriculture and all there is to know about this honorable profession. Anyone who is knowledgeable about agriculture knows that the industry has been through good times and some tough times. However, through the good years, through the challenging years, they’re a testament, especially today, to good old-fashioned hard work, flexibility, grit, resilience, helping others, reaching out and lending a helping hand.”

Decades in the making, the new 29,500-square-foot multipurpose facility will help to enhance the School of Agricultural Sciences and its curriculum by providing laboratory, kitchen and exposition space as well as classrooms and offices while helping the School of Agricultural Sciences meet enrollment and program growth.

Additionally, the facility will help address infrastructure needs at the Wright Farm related to academic facilities, parking and farm production. It will provide facilities that enable innovation and partnerships and address best practices for the Northwest campus and the School of Agricultural Sciences.

“The Agricultural Learning Center is not only going to be a tremendous resource for the students in the School of Agricultural Sciences, but it will be a great resource for other students here at Northwest Missouri State University, the community and the industry as a whole,” Rod Barr, the director of Northwest School of Agricultural Sciences said.

On behalf of students, Ryan Shurvington, a sophomore agricultural education major from Clever, Missouri, thanked the people who have helped bring the Agricultural Learning Center to the construction phase and spoke to advantages it will provide when finished.

“Since the announcement that we would be building the Agricultural Learning Center out at the R.T. Wright Farm, I knew that this facility would drastically increase the Northwest experience for students all across campus, but especially those in the school of agriculture by providing an educational resource that we hadn’t had at the school farm,” he said.

The University and the Northwest Foundation have been actively raising funds for the facility through their Forever Green Campaign for Northwest, which has raised more than $45.7 million for University initiatives centered on academic excellence, scholarships, student life and other donor-directed gifts. The Carl and Cheryl Hughes Fieldhouse, opened in fall 2018, also is a key component of the campaign.

While less than $1 million still needs to be raised, more than $5.5 million has been raised for the Agricultural Learning Center with leading support provided by more than 40 public and private donors who have joined the University’s Homesteaders society and provided gifts of $25,000 or greater toward the project.

Relating her upbringing as “a farm girl from Grant City, Missouri,” Jennifer Nicholson, the president of the Northwest Foundation Board of Directors, invited community members to consider contributing to the project, noting the Agricultural Learning Center will be “the crown jewel of the farm.”

“I know these are difficult times,” Nicholson said. “I know it’s hard to think about making a contribution, but we need your help. We want to finish this project, and we would appreciate anything that you could contribute.”

Among those donors providing a Homesteader gift are Northwest alumnus Corey Strider and his family who pledged their support for the Agricultural Learning Center last year.

“I see this facility as one that has been needed for years,” Strider said. “It’s a game-changer for Northwest and the entire community. This facility will provide a conduit to promote ag advocacy for Northwest students. It will be a functional facility for 4H, FFA, commodity groups and agribusinesses alike. The doors will be open to clubs, organizations, businesses and community members as well. The possibilities are endless, and it makes me proud that my alma mater is committed to a project of this scope and size.”

Marilou Joyner, who serves as chair of Northwest’s Board of Regents, also has provided a Homesteader gift. Joyner said she has observed how agricultural programs have benefitted Northwest students previously and believes the Agricultural Learning Center will further benefit a new generation of students.

“This is a linchpin project for the University as it will continue to strengthen the impact Northwest and its School of Agricultural Sciences has throughout the state of Missouri and beyond,” Joyner said. “The ag center will play a role in spurring innovation within science, technology and math, and it will encourage collaboration across all academic units of the University.”

The Agricultural Learning Center garnered approval from the Board of Regents March 19, and the University awarded a construction contract to E.L. Crawford Construction for about $8.2 million. Northwest and the state of Missouri – led by Rep. Allen Andrews and Sen. Dan Hegeman with support of Gov. Mike Parson and the Missouri General Assembly to issue $2.5 million in state-appropriated monies for the construction – are providing the remainder of the needed funding. The building could open as soon as spring 2021.

Andrews and Hegeman expressed their pride for the project and the University during their remarks.

“Over the past few years, I’ve had the opportunity to visit the University’s R.T. Wright Farm on several occasions, and with every visit I leave more and more impressed,” Andrews said. “Of course I’m impressed with the research and the progress that is so evident. But more than that, I’m impressed with the people – true leaders and innovators who have a sincere passion to further the mission of agriculture and to help educate the generations that follow.”

Hegeman added, “Our family and the region truly values the agricultural programs at Northwest and look forward to the enhancements that this Agricultural Learning Center will bring to our region’s most important industry of agriculture. Since Northwest was founded in 1905, the partnership between the state and Maryville community has been steadfast, and this is another example of that strengthened partnership and collaboration. I am excited to show my colleagues throughout the state that Northwest and in particular the School of Agricultural Sciences is transforming lives and is on the path to meet the anticipated growth of agriculture in the future.”

 

For more information about the Forever Green Campaign and ways to make a gift in support the Agricultural Learning Center or other Northwest initiatives, visit www.nwmissouri.edu/ForeverGreen/ or contact the Office of University Advancement at 660.562.1248.


Media contact:

Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager | mhorn@nwmissouri.edu | 660.562.1704