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US (IL): Opening of the School of Ag's Teaching and Research greenhouse

The Western Illinois University School of Agriculture held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday that celebrated the opening of the initial phase of the School of Ag's Teaching and Research Greenhouse.

Construction crews broke ground last summer for the greenhouse project. According to School of Agriculture Director Andrew Baker, the initial phase of the project includes two 16 ft. x 48 ft. greenhouses (with a connecting hallway) near the University's Livestock Center, located north of campus (south of the Harry Mussatto Golf Course's parking lot).

Baker said the new greenhouse facilities will extend the School of Agriculture's research capabilities in the plant-science area.

"This year, we were awarded the funds to begin the greenhouse project, one that we have requested in our annual consolidated report for several years now. We believed it was the one piece missing from the AFL (Agricultural Farm Laboratories) that would support the curricular needs of our comprehensive degree program," he said. "One of the two greenhouses will be solely intended for classroom and laboratory utilization. We will use one facility to house parent material for instructional use. The other unit will be strictly utilized for research purposes."

Baker said the University, the College of Business and Technology and the School of Ag contributed funding for the initial phase of the project.

"We envision a full greenhouse complex, which will be built in phases and over several years," he explained. "The overall complex will include six individual greenhouses, stacked side-by-side with a connecting hallway that leads to a head house, which will include a classroom, restroom facilities, chemical-mixing area and storage facilities. It is our intention to connect with agricultural industry leaders to assist in funding with the additional phases of the greenhouse complex."

Baker added the greenhouse facility will open up the research possibilities for School of Ag faculty members.

"Until now, we were limited on the number of research proposals we could submit for external research funds, because we lacked a greenhouse facility to fulfill grant requirements. A greenhouse will enable us to apply for external grants that require experimental designs in a controlled environment, as well as provide faculty the capacity to conduct experimental trials before moving the research to field trials. The facility, which is designed to be state of the art, will also assist us in securing additional external funds to help support our research efforts in plant science. It will help us, too, extend our capacity to conduct more student-centered research, which will add value to our degree programs," he said.

Baker added the School of Ag is tentatively planning an open house event for the greenhouse in the spring.

For more information
Western Illinois University
T: +1 (309) 298-1080
Email: [email protected]
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