Northwest Missouri State University is inviting the community to join a virtual groundbreaking ceremony to celebrate the start of construction on its Agricultural Learning Center. Community members are invited to visit the Northwest website at www.nwmissouri.edu/ForeverGreen/AgCenter/groundbreaking.htm after 9 a.m. Friday, April 24. By accessing the website, community members can learn more about plans for the Agricultural Learning Center and view a series of videos featuring Northwest leaders and supporters reflecting on the variety of ways the project will enhance agriculture programming for the University as well as the region.
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.
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 and provided gifts of $25,000 or greater toward the project.
The Agricultural Learning Center garnered approval from Northwest’s Board of Regents on 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 Sen. Dan Hegeman and Rep. Allen Andrews 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.
While Northwest targets a spring 2021 opening, the facility will add a single-story, 29,500-square-foot multipurpose facility to the landscape of the R.T. Wright Farm. The building will house classroom, laboratory, kitchen, exposition and office spaces while helping the School of Agricultural Sciences address enrollment and program growth
The School’s enrollment has increased steadily in recently years to 650 students majoring in ag-related studies, accounting for about 11 percent of Northwest’s undergraduate population. Meanwhile, Northwest’s agricultural business program is the largest in the state.
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.
Among other recent improvements at the Wright Farm, Northwest worked with the Missouri Department of Transportation during the last year on a $1.2 million effort to better connect the farm to its Highway 71 entrance and add turn lanes for traffic safety. 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 replaced an existing farmhouse. Defining entry features such as signage, fencing and landscaping are being added, too.
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.
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/.