Students, faculty and staff got their first look at the Greenhouse Learning Center on the Oklahoma State University campus last week as the new $6 million state-of-the-art facility opened its doors at the start of the fall 2019 semester.
More than 200 people attended the recent official grand opening of the facility and were able to see first-hand the new space that will be so beneficial to OSU students.
The Greenhouse Learning Center features six greenhouses, including an isolated entomology greenhouse; and a headhouse, which includes a classroom, office space and plant-preparation area, as well as storage space for soil, equipment and chemicals such as fertilizer and pest-management materials. The large foyer provides space for student club meetings. The facility also houses cutting-edge irrigation systems, intense climate and humidity control and other technology standard in today’s horticulture industry.
The facility will aid OSU’s College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources
in recruiting and retaining faculty and students, supporting industry relationships
and growing its program to better prepare horticulture professionals for future careers
in the industry.
Tom Coon, OSU’s vice president of agricultural programs, said the facility will be instrumental in expanding and promoting agricultural opportunities for OSU students.
“Some of the greatest opportunities in expanding agriculture are in putting new technologies to work in plant production,” Coon said. “This investment, supported by donors, our students and our state and federal funding, gives us a gigantic leap forward and equips our faculty and students with opportunities to learn how to adopt these advances into new innovations. This facility also will help attract students to the program.
Bruce Dunn, OSU professor of floriculture and departmental greenhouse coordinator, is excited to have this new facility on campus.
“The new Greenhouse Learning Center will help our students be leaders in the industry,” Dunn said. “We can teach the theory of horticulture anywhere, but this facility will provide our students with hands-on learning opportunities that will make them competitive in today’s job market.”
The Greenleaf Nursery Headhouse is named in honor of the $1 million contribution Greenleaf Nursery gave before construction began.
“We are proud to contribute to this facility and believe it will create an enhanced opportunity for both faculty and students to do research and also have a great educational experience,” said Randy Davis, president and CEO of Greenleaf Nursery and OSU alum.
Southwood Landscape and Garden Center’s $25,000 donation, along with Southwood’s co-founder Joe Schulte’s donation of $25,000, contributed to the center’s state-of-the-art facility, which is named the Southwood Landscape and Nursery Prep Area. It is his hope this area will help students become more acclimated to working in greenhouses.
“Someone seeking a job in the horticulture field needs not only book and classroom learning about plants, but also the hands-on, tactile experience that working in a learning greenhouse can provide,” Schulte said.”
Lynn Brandenberger, interim head of OSU’s Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, said the new greenhouse complex provides students with many more learning opportunities.
“The new teaching greenhouse will allow students an opportunity to learn in a modern, up-to-date facility. As students graduate and move into leadership position in the industry, their experiences at Oklahoma State University will prepare them to take the reins to continue the growth of the green industry in Oklahoma and beyond,” Brandenberger said.
The east side of the building soon will feature the Plaza, which will be used for teaching purposes, as well as beautification. The design for the Plaza came about through a student competition in which six designs were submitted for public vote. Construction should begin on the winning design in just a few weeks.
Dunn said the area will feature raised-bed gardens, memorial benches, pergola, agronomists crops and fruits and vegetables.
“We’ll feature some Oklahoma Proven selections, along with an area showcasing OSU turfgrass,” he said.
Randy Raper, director of capital projects and assistant director, Oklahoma Agricultural Experiment Station, said a number of professors in the horticulture and landscape architecture department will utilize this space.
“There are additional funding and naming opportunities that will help complete the Plaza, including memorial benches and the overhead pergola,” Raper said.
While primarily serving horticulture and landscape architecture students, the new center also will benefit students in agricultural education, communications and leadership; plant and soil sciences; natural resources ecology and management; and entomology and plant pathology. In addition, the facility will create opportunities for more robust Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service programs and better support existing curriculum.
Private naming and funding opportunities for the Greenhouse Learning Center still are available for those wishing to support this effort. Please contact James Ambrose at the OSU Foundation at 405-385-5601 or email@example.com for more information.