Chico State’s College of Agriculture has been allocated $18.75 million in one-time funding from the State of California’s 2022-23 budget to enhance student experiential learning and training at its University Farm. The University will use the financial support to build a new Agriculture Learning Center, to acquire and implement precision agricultural technology, and renovate and modernize its existing facilities—many of which are more than 50 years old.
“Sitting right in the middle of one of the richest agricultural regions in the world, the University Farm gives students valuable hands-on experience and research opportunities that will help shape the future of our state’s $50 billion-dollar agricultural industry,” said Chico State President Gayle Hutchinson. “We are grateful for the investment in our farm by Gov. Newsom and the State legislature, which will help the next generation of California agricultural professionals meet the food and fiber needs of a changing world.”
The funding was secured through the collaborative effort of the four California State University institutions who have agriculture facilities: Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Cal Poly Pomona, Fresno State and Chico State.
Chico State will use roughly half of the funding to build a state-of-the-art Learning and Training Center at the Farm. The proposed 10,000-square-foot facility will serve as a connecting point for the University’s diverse academic, research and community agricultural programs. It will expand the number of farm classrooms, create on-site event and conference rooms, and establish a dedicated space for student clubs and competitions. The Center will also serve as a hub and resource center for researchers, farm practitioners, agricultural economists and business innovators to collaboratively address the challenges faced in the North State.
Already one of the most diversified farming operations in Northern California, the 800-acre University Farm is the living laboratory for agricultural programs at Chico State. With four livestock units, a wide variety of orchards and row crops, pastures, an organic dairy, and a USDA-inspected meats laboratory, each unit at the Farm is operated by a team consisting of a lead student manager, multiple student employees, a faculty adviser and a staff technician. This student-centered approach gives undergraduates the opportunity to take the lead in day-to-day operations as well as long-term management decisions, providing valuable leadership and team-building skills as they prepare to enter the workforce.
“Our industry is faced with the challenge of producing more with less. We must continue to feed the world while reducing emissions, rebuilding our soil and restoring water resources,” said Patricia Stock, Dean of the College of Agriculture. “Thanks to this new funding, Chico State is preparing to be the epicenter for climate-smart agricultural education and a technology hub that will train the next generation of leaders in agricultural and food sciences. In addition, expanding and modernizing our learning facilities at the University Farm will allow us to respond to the evolving bioeconomies and the growing need to collaborate with science, technology, engineering and math disciplines to expand and enhance agricultural education, agribusiness development, and cross-disciplinary research.”
The College of Agriculture looks forward to celebrating how these state funds will transform the Farm for the future and beyond at the Farm’s 60th anniversary celebration on Nov. 5, 2022, which will include tours, presentations, and a special dinner. More information will be posted on the College of Agriculture’s website at https://www.csuchico.edu/ag/ and on the Chico State Alumni Association’s website at https://www.csuchico.edu/alumni/.