Friday, December 17, 2021
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The smell of dust and green grass filled the air on a hot summer day as construction began on a new home for Oklahoma State University Agriculture.
“The agricultural facility funded by the New Frontiers campaign will serve as a foundation for the future, present and past members of the Cowboy family as a place to commemorate their common passion of agriculture,” said Tom Coon, vice president and dean for OSU Agriculture.
Sparked by this passion and drive for the new building, the idea for a state-of-the-art teaching, research and extension facility for faculty, staff and students was born, Coon said.
Four years ago, the conversation of creating a new home for OSU Agriculture began with the struggles of repairing classrooms and the overall structural integrity of Agricultural Hall, said Randy Raper, OSU Agriculture assistant vice president for facilities.
“Something the current building is lacking is the space for student involvement,” Raper said.
When looking at the new building, visitors will feel more welcomed from the openness of the structure with various glass walls, Raper said.
He hopes all guests will feel a part of the Ferguson Family as soon as they walk through the doors of the New Frontiers Agricultural Hall, he added.
“If we were going to listen to somebody in terms of how this building was going to function and be put together, we really needed to ensure the faculty members were the ones to drive this process,” Raper said.
Located on the northeast corner of Farm Road and Monroe Street, the new facility will feature several new additions, including group study and department huddle rooms, teaching labs, and other spaces for student involvement, Raper said.
The installation of the research facilities has become one of the most prized components to the new building in addition to the student gathering spaces, said Tess Haddock, agricultural economics junior.
During one of her class projects shadowing the New Frontiers campaign, Haddock worked with the OSU Foundation to give donors a tour of the current Agricultural Hall and expressing her gratitude for their investments in current and future students.
“It is a big thing for the donors to have their name on a building because it encourages them to come back throughout the years,” Haddock said. “Students get to see those names and have another networking opportunity through OSU.”
New Frontiers Agricultural Hall will not only encourage students to gain more hands-on learning opportunities, but also will provide the facilities to conduct in-depth research and have a gathering place within the college, Haddock said.
“New Frontiers Agricultural Hall will bring a lot of alumni back,” she said. “It will excite them because they can be at their alma mater and a part of the Stillwater community.”
As of November 2021, the New Frontiers campaign was at 94.8% of the $50 million goal in support of the new facility, Coon said.
“Considering the volatility and instability of the construction market, we continue to be prudent stewards when making decisions regarding the bidding process,” Coon said. “However, we are making steady progress on the new home for OSU Agriculture.”
The team will continue to work on finding the remaining $3 million to finish the campaign, he added.
“We are beyond excited about seeing a new facility at the university, which was originally founded on agriculture and a critical part of our state’s economy,” said Brady Sidwell, agricultural economics alumnus and Enid Brewing Co. owner and co-founder.
“It is really important for OSU Agriculture to have high-tech and up-to-date facilities to be able to keep up with the agricultural industry,” Sidwell said. “OSU continues to play a critical role in a majority of agricultural innovations that impact the local farmers of Oklahoma.”
To honor the memory of the late Raymond Sidwell, past North Central OSU Research Station senior station superintendent, the Sidwell family invested in the New Frontiers building to support students, Sidwell said.
The Sidwell family is funding the office of the associate vice president of OSU Ag Research in the New Frontiers Agricultural Hall, naming it the Sidwell Family for Agriculture office.
“As a good stadium attracts the best athletic talent, so will a well-equipped and state-of-the-art college facility for students to conduct research and interact as they represent the commitment of OSU to the agricultural industry,” Sidwell said.
By understanding the need and impact of giving back, the Sidwell family views their donation as an investment in future leaders, researchers and educators, he said.
Through the three pillars of a land grant university, students are exposed to innovative technologies, leadership development programs and top tier research opportunities, Sidwell said.
These qualities serve as fundamental reasons to donate to the New Frontiers campaign, he added.
“Research has been a big part of my experience at OSU and a large reason why I came to OSU over other schools,” said Georgia Eastham, who is a sophomore earning degrees in plant and soil sciences and in biochemistry. “The opportunity to start research and gain the hands-on experience early as a Freshmen Research Scholar was the most impactful.”
Students’ passion for research efforts begins during their undergraduate education to discover how to learn from failure and bring what they learned from the classroom and apply this knowledge in the research lab, Eastham said.
Through her mentorship in the Freshmen Research Scholars program, her passion for seeking graduate school with the end goal of becoming a professor was ignited, she added.
“The New Frontiers Agricultural Hall is really cool because of the focus on both student spaces and research spaces,” Eastham said. “Having access to more opportunities and new facilities will encourage students to become more involved.”
The impact of the New Frontiers campaign and building is an investment in current and future students, Eastham said. As they become alumni, students will be proud to come from a supportive program, she said.
“New Frontiers will be a generational, transformative building that will help OSU Agriculture prepare students for the future,” Coon said.
Story By: Bobby Marchy | Cowboy Journal