Danny Mooers–Staff Writer
As Dordt looks to expand their agriculture department, updating the facilities and equipment is a top priority.
Dordt is planning on moving the home base for their agriculture department a mile further north of its current location to a spot of land close to the wayside chapel on Highway 75.
The current Agriculture Stewardship Center is located two miles north of the Dordt College campus. The agriculture department also operates a 200 acre farm and uses it to teach students how to grow crops, small grains and raise livestock.
Dordt traded the piece of land the Agriculture Stewardship Center currently occupies with the city of Sioux Center and received 80 acres along with cash in return.
“Erik Hoekstra had a conversation with the mayor about a year ago and the mayor suggested a potential property swap with us,” said Howard Wilson the Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer at Dordt on how the process began.
Dordt will not be giving up the 200 acre farm, they are upgrading their facilities and moving them to the land they received.
“We are able to build the new stewardship center because of the land swap,” said Mike Schouten, the Agriculture Stewardship Center Steward. “It’s allowed us to have more room to develop.”
They have a plans to construct a 24,000 sq. foot building that will contain classrooms and a 175- person meeting room along with space for further development. This is the first phase of the project. The steel for the building is expected to arrive in the next few weeks according to Wilson. It is being fabricated in Missouri.
The new Agriculture Stewardship Center itself is expected to cost $3.5 million and the entire three-phase moving project is projected to cost somewhere around $7.3 million.
Dordt is hoping the building will be completed by late August 2018. Besides the building, the first phase also includes a $400,000 budget for new equipment and a $525,000 endowment to cover the cost of operating the building.
The second phase will consist of developing a animal husbandry facility. That facility is expected to cost $1.5 million.
The third phase will be to create a storage facility and potentially a house for the Farm Steward.
“It (the new Stewardship Center) has both a pedagogical purpose to teach students, but it will also be a meeting space,” Wilson said. “We are hoping to partner with different agriculture businesses and organizations around Northwest Iowa so they can host different meetings and events at our facility.”
The current center is quite a bit smaller than the new one will be and with development of the Pro-Tech program, more space has become necessary. There are around 175 students involved with the agriculture program at Dordt between full-time students and the Pro-Tech students.
“We want a meeting space which will both benefit students and they will also get to see the larger world of agriculture business in Northwest Iowa,” Wilson said.