Tarleton State University’s Agricultural Center is set to receive nearly $11 million in improvements, including funding for a new multipurpose facility and modernization of existing facilities damaged in the spring 2016 tornado.
The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents in August approved the budget for the new Animal & Plant Sciences Center at the Agricultural Center (commonly called the College Farm). The facility will be built along College Farm Road (County Road 518) northwest of the recently completed Agricultural Field Machinery & Fabrication Center.
Construction is expected to be substantially complete by May 2019.
The Animal & Plant Sciences Center will comprise six state-of-the-art laboratories for teaching every aspect of animal and plant science. Individual teaching labs spotlight anatomy and physiology, genetics, nutrition, horticulture and crop science, soils and entomology.
The facility has a 42,000-square-foot covered, open-sided livestock area where animals can be brought for observation and hands-on learning. Working and sorting areas for cattle, sheep and goats feature pens, alleys, corrals, scales and squeeze chutes.
A teaching arena can be divided into multiple spaces for animal demonstrations, livestock evaluation classes and competitive events. There will be spaces where cows, ewes and does can give birth and students can safely be taught how to provide assistance.
Four greenhouses, an outdoor demonstration garden for food, forage and ornamental plants, elevated planting beds, and teaching plots will support the horticulture and plant science programs. Students will be able to learn greenhouse management, ornamental plant production, vegetable production, and pest control.
“One of the most exciting features of the new complex is the product sales center,” said Dr. Steve Damron, dean of Tarleton’s College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences. “Students will be able to learn to manage a retail space by stocking and marketing products from the Tarleton Agriculture Center. This will include frozen and processed meats, vegetables, ornamental plants, vegetable and bedding plants, and woody ornamentals.”
Tarleton lacks adequate teaching and lab space for several programs, and this capital improvement project — part of the university’s 2017 Ag Center Master Plan — will upgrade or replace nearly a dozen facilities.
“This new facility combines multiple critical needs from across the college into one complex on the Agricultural Center,” Damron said. “In addition to supporting our philosophy of hands-on learning, we expect the Animal & Plant Sciences Center to become an important interface with Stephenville and the surrounding community.”