Sarah Widener–Staff Writer
Applause echoed off the industrial walls as Dordt College President Eric Hoekstra concluded his dedication speech. Students, alumni, faculty, staff, families, and even the Iowa Secretary of Agriculture crammed into the brand new Agriculture Stewardship Center to witness this dedication.
The new Agriculture Stewardship building underwent dedication on October 20. The ceremony included Mike Naig, the Iowa Secretary of Agriculture, as a guest speaker. The immense building hosted almost 500 guests.
The structure has been a long time coming, according to Gary De Vries, the head of the agriculture department at Dordt.
“We started planning in earnest in 2012,” De Vries said. “The project is taking place in three phases this is just the first step.”
Though the building was safe and presentable for guests, it still has work to be done. The Agricultural Stewardship Center is behind its construction schedule due to the unusual weather this season has brought.
“The building is structurally complete but missing some detail,” senior animal science major Rachel Hatfield said. When the missing components are added, the center will be used for classes, such as agriculture safety, manufacturing, and welding.
“People were very impressed by the scale and surprised to see the amount of planning that went into the Ag Stewardship Center,” said Georgia Lucas, a senior agriculture ambassador at Dordt. “They also recognize that Dordt put a lot of thought into how the building will be best utilized in the future.”
A PAS conference and several community events have been granted permission to use the building in the coming months.
The next phase of the Agricultural Stewardship Center is the cattle phase. This phase includes moving the Defender cattle from their current pastures, and the construction of both a livestock building and a feed building.
The third phase of development includes building machine storage and the steward’s house. This project is anticipated to reach completion in 2020.
Funding for this project comes from donors, a land trade with Sioux Center, and a loan. The cost of this project, according to De Vries, is roughly four million dollars. This chunk of change is seen as a wise investment since the agriculture program has outgrown the current facilities.
Several other problems with the past farm also contributed to this new center, said De Vries. It was mainly the safety concern of operating field equipment on highway 75. Another motivating factor for this new building was to create a solid brand for the ag program, eliminating the confusion often caused by the split location of the previous farm and pasture.
“In 2005, we had six to nine ag majors,” De Vries said. “Now we have 170 between agriculture and manufacturing. With the pro tech program, we anticipate this number growing.”
Fundraising for this project is still taking place and agriculture students can expect to move into this new building for the spring semester this year.