Regents authorize University to award construction contract for Agricultural Learning Center
MARYVILLE, Mo. – Northwest Missouri State University’s long-awaited Agricultural Learning Center (ALC) at the R.T. Wright Farm will soon be a reality after the University’s Board of Regents on Thursday gave the go-ahead to award a contract with E.L. Crawford Construction for about $8.2 million.
As the University and the Northwest Foundation have been actively raising funds for the facility through their Forever Green Campaign for Northwest, Rod Barr, the director of the School of Agricultural Sciences, thanked Regents for their support after Thursday’s seminal vote.
“I think this is a landmark for the University,” Barr said. “I remember (Northwest President Dr. John Jasinski) talking about it being a lynchpin. Well, we just put a stake in the ground. I’m very excited.”
The project, for which the University received bids from seven vendors, calls for a new single-story 29,500-square-foot pre-engineered metal building that will house classroom, laboratory, kitchen, exposition and office spaces.
The University expects the facility will help the School of Agricultural Sciences address enrollment and program growth. The School has realized enrollment growth during the last decade that now amounts to 650 majors, accounting for about 12 percent of all students at Northwest. Meanwhile, Northwest’s agricultural business program is the largest in the state.
Additionally, the ALC 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 total project cost to build and equip the ALC is estimated at about $9.8; turn lane improvements required by the Missouri Department of Transportation, MoExcels Lab Equipment and estimated financing costs will increase the cost to about $11 million. Additional costs will be funded through multiple sources including donors, the University and state funds.
The Northwest Foundation has raised more than $5 million toward the project through the support of more than 40 public and private donors who have joined the University’s Homesteaders and provided gifts of $25,000 and greater toward the ALC project.
In addition to the ALC and other improvements at the Wright Farm, Northwest is working with the Missouri Department of Transportation on a $1.2 million effort to better connect the farm to its Highway 71 entrance and add turn lanes for traffic safety as well as defining entry features such as signage, fencing and landscaping.
Northwest also partnered last year with the Maryville R-II School District’s Northwest Technical School on the construction of a 1,300-square-foot farm manager’s home at the Wright Farm. The new structure, which replaced an existing farmhouse, consists of three bedrooms, two bathrooms and a two-car garage with an open floor concept and full basement.
Northwest is targeting spring 2021 for the ALC’s grand opening.
About the School of Agricultural Sciences
Northwest’s School of Agricultural Sciences boasts an 84.1 percent retention rate compared to the national average of 68.7 percent, and 98.2 percent of its graduates are securing employment or advancing their education within six months of earning degrees.
The 448-acre R.T. Wright Farm provides opportunities for Northwest students in ag science-related majors to gain profession-based experience with beef, swine, dairy and sheep enterprises as well as row and forage crops. Students in the School of Agricultural Sciences also benefit from access to Northwest’s Horticulture Complex, which includes seven greenhouses with state-of-the-art technology, and the McKemy Center for Lifelong Learning, which houses a commodity trading room providing up-to-the-minute commodities information and computer work stations.
To learn more about Northwest’s School of Agricultural Sciences, visit www.nwmissouri.edu/ag/.
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