STEPHENVILLE — A new multipurpose complex puts Tarleton State University’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at the forefront of educational delivery and hands-on learning for livestock and plant sciences disciplines.
Located at the university’s Agricultural Center along College Farm Road (County Road 518), the Animal and Plant Sciences Center opened this morning with a ribbon cutting and tours. It is part of $11 million in improvements and modernization of structures damaged in a 2016 tornado.
Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp said the new center is a place where Tarleton Texans will get the know-how to find real-time solutions to real-world challenges. “Students choose Tarleton for hands-on learning experiences, and this fantastic new facility takes that to the next level.”
“Dedicating this one-of-a-kind learning and research facility amplifies our growth and development from modest beginnings,” said Tarleton President James Hurley. “Thanks to the vision of early city leaders and our partnership with the A&M System, Tarleton’s agricultural programs now enjoy national prominence. They bring us closer to becoming America’s leading regional comprehensive university.”
Calling it a great day for the university and for Erath and surrounding counties, state Rep. J.D. Sheffield (District 59) commended the Texas Legislature for stepping up to help rebuild after a natural disaster.
“From robotics to drones to GPS-based applications in precision farming, agriculture has entered a new era,” Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller said. “This facility moves Tarleton front and center to provide the education and research needed to advance that technology.”
Dr. Steve Damron, dean of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, said the center makes room for several programs at one complex and enables the university to develop courses to meet the increasing needs of agricultural industries in Texas and beyond.
“Texas agriculture’s economic impact exceeds $115 billion annually, and one out of seven Texans works in an agriculture-related job. So it makes sense to increase Tarleton’s program options and provide opportunities for students to work directly with faculty on research,” he said. “This new facility makes that possible.”
The center features six state-of-the-art laboratories for teaching animal and plant sciences, with individual teaching labs for anatomy and physiology, genetics, nutrition, horticulture and crops science, and soils and entomology.
Stantec is the architect, and Linbeck the general contractor.
A 42,000-square-foot covered, open-sided livestock area allows for observation and hands-on learning with animals. Working and sorting areas for cattle, sheep and goats have pens, alleys, corrals, scales and squeeze shoots.
A teaching arena can be divided into multiple spaces for animal demonstrations, livestock evaluation classes and competitive events. Students will learn how to assist at the birth of calves, lambs and kids.
Four greenhouses, an outdoor demonstration garden for food, forage and ornamental plants, elevated planting beds and teaching plots will boost horticulture and plant science programs.
Supporting Tarleton’s commitment to applied learning, the center features a merchandising laboratory — The Purple Tractor — that will sell prepared meats, vegetables and nursery plants produced by Tarleton students.
“This is an extraordinarily important building, positioning the university as a leader in agriculture education and research,” said state Rep. DeWayne Burns (District 58). “It augments Tarleton’s dedication to learning outside the classroom.”
For more information on Tarleton’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, go to www.tarleton.edu/coaes.