(From Northwest News Services)
MARYVILLE, Mo. – The Northwest Missouri State University community gathered Wednesday to celebrate the completion of a new farm manager’s house at its R.T. Wright Farm – and touted more things on the horizon for the School of Agricultural Sciences.
Northwest constructed the 1,300-square-foot home during the last year in partnership with the Maryville R-II School District’s Northwest Technical School and its building trades program. Jim Husz, Northwest’s full-time farm manager, will occupy the new home, which replaces a 45-year-old home on the property.
Prior to a ribbon-cutting celebrating the project’s completion and tours of the home, Northwest President Dr. John Jasinski and Rod Bar, the director of Northwest’s School of Agricultural Sciences, took time to acknowledge community leaders for their collaborative spirit and praise numerous others who are supporting enhancements of the University’s agricultural sciences programming.
“We know where it’s been the last several decades, where it’s at today and where we are going to take this in the future,” Jasinski said. He added, “We’re all in on the School of Agricultural Sciences.”
State Rep. Allen Andrews and Sen. Dan Hegeman, as well as Joe Hegeman, the district field representative for U.S. Rep. Sam Graves, also were on hand and praised the work happening at 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.
“What a remarkable thing to see progress take place, right in front of our own eyes,” Andrew said. “We all realize that it’s just doesn’t happen by happenstance. It takes a lot of work, a lot of effort, a lot of leadership, to be able to make these things happen,” Andrews said. “It’s just astounding the plethora of individuals coming together and supporting and cooperating with the University to make great things happen.”
Sen. Hegeman added, “It’s all about collaboration. The state is happy to collaborate with the University. The University collaborated with the Technical School to build this building. I love the building trades programs. I love what the kids learn with their hands, and that’s what they do in agriculture, too. They learn with their hands and learn with the skills that you’re teaching (at Northwest).”
Joe Hegeman, who earned his bachelor’s degree from Northwest in animal science in 2016, said. “I get to read about what’s going on in Maryville and see all of the community support for the University and the farm, especially for the Ag Learning Center. Being here today to celebrate the new farmhouse is just a great thing.”
The University is actively raising funds for an $8.5 million Agricultural Learning Center to allow for research and scholarly activities centered on crop, soil and livestock resources as well as processing agricultural products. The 29,000-square foot, multi-use building also will include space for public and private functions such as producer and agricultural industry meetings, shows, workshops and career development events, and the promotion of agricultural literacy.
“The Ag Learning Center is a lynchpin for our University,” Barr said. “It’s going to make a huge difference – not only for the School of Agricultural Sciences but for every student who comes to Northwest.”
Jasinski noted less than $2 million needs to be raised to fully fund the Agricultural Learning Center project. In addition to numerous private donors and businesses who have contributed to the project, the Missouri General Assembly approved $2.5 million in capital monies for the project last spring.
“We’re aligning with business and industry and what the needs are,” Jasinski said. “The Ag Learning Center is going to be a reality. What we’re telling everybody is, now is the time to get in with your support because we’re planning on moving forward with a groundbreaking in the near term.”
Through an additional $1 million investment, Northwest is working to improve the “front door” of the Wright Farm. A new road connects the farm to its Highway 71 entrance, and turn lanes are being added to the highway for traffic safety. Other planned improvements include signage, fencing and landscaping.
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 additional hands-on, profession-based experiences.
With an enrollment of 665 students, the School boasts the largest agricultural business program in the state. It also offers majors in 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.
“Our ag business program is well-known in the industry and we’re continuing to make it better,” Barr said.
For more information about Northwest’s School of Agricultural Sciences, visit www.nwmissouri.edu/ag/.