SHERIDAN — The Sheridan College agriculture department will soon get a facelift with a brand new facility.
The Mars Agriculture Center is expected to be completed by spring semester of 2017. The 18,424 square foot building will provide more learning opportunities for students at Sheridan College.
The $8 million building is being paid for by a gifts from Forrest Mars Jr. ($4 million) and Whitney Benefits ($1.3 million). Additional funds from the state funding ($2.7 million). The project will also consist of a remodel to the adjacent science building, which includes renovations to the chemistry lab among other structural renovations.
“We are extremely grateful for Mr. Mars and Whitney benefits,” facilities director Kent Andersen said. “Those two groups, without them, this would not be happening.”
Keith Klement, director of agriculture at Sheridan College, said that the new building will do wonders for the agriculture program. Included in the new building are two biology labs, an animal science lab, a herbarium study classroom, agriculture commodity classrooms along with three additional classrooms with a capacity of 24 students.
“It allows us to expand opportunities for ag program to expand opportunities of students especially with our new commodities classrooms,” Klement said.
The commodities classroom will be something completely new at the college. The classroom will consist of a lab as well as a realtime ticker showing stock prices of the New York Stock Exchange.
Sheridan College’s agriculture program has expanded exponentially in the past couple of years. In 2010, there were approximately 60 students in the agriculture program. This past year, there was 91. Klement expects that number to climb as the years go on.
“I’m expecting to have number to be over 100 students this year,” Klement said. “We had 47 new students this fall and we should have about 50 students this fall.”
There will also be additional improvements outside the building as well. The college is in the process of creating planting areas across the street from the building, which Klement said will help him and other faculty with their lessons.
“Students can grow plants within the greenhouses then take them out to the fields and see how they grow outside,” Klement said.
This is the second building project on Sheridan College’s campus that will be completed this year. This summer, the Whitney Center for the Arts will open its doors to students and staff. Both Klement and Andersen agree that all of the building projects on campus are ways to improve the learning experience for students.