UMES Begins Ag Center Project

UMES Begins Ag Center Project
The university’s new Agricultural Research & Education Center will be located at the corner of College Backbone Road and John Wilson Lane. Submitted Image

PRINCESS ANNE – Ceremonial shovels broke ground Nov. 30, paving the way for the start of construction for the University of Maryland Eastern Shore’s new Agricultural Research & Education Center. The facility is expected to enhance delivery of research, extension and teaching programs in agriculture at the university. It is designed to support agribusiness and other economic development activities in the state, particularly on the Eastern Shore.

“This new center will provide modern research and education space to allow faculty and students to conduct 21st-century science to serve our clientele in an efficient and more effective manner,” said Dr. Moses T. Kairo, dean of the School of Agricultural and Natural Sciences.

The project is supported in part by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture through a $9.4 million grant under the 1890 facilities improvement program and $17 million from the Maryland Legislature.

“Agriculture is a key driver of the Eastern Shore’s economy – and we rely on our farmers, growers and producers to help feed the region and the country. To support their efforts, UMES has long worked to keep Maryland at the forefront of agricultural innovation. That’s why we fought to secure more than $9 million in federal investments for the construction of this new education and research center that will prepare a diverse pipeline of students with the tools to lead the next generation of agribusiness,” said U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland), a member of the Appropriations Committee.

The building, in the planning stages since 2013, weathered uncertainty when post-pandemic market conditions in the construction industry rose.

Plans for the 25,231-square-foot agricultural facility include specialized research laboratories along with traditional classrooms, conference rooms and faculty offices. The design also includes offices and support space for agricultural extension services, including six greenhouses comprising 7,500 square feet.

“By supporting our undergraduate programs in agriculture, the building will provide space and technology for educational experiences, allowing UMES students and the community the opportunity to support the future of the agriculture industry,” said UMES President Heidi M. Anderson.

Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-Young, the USDA under secretary for Research, Education and Economics, delivered the keynote address.

The project emphasizes UMES’ mission as a land-grant institution, Kairo said. Founded originally for the establishment and support of agriculture experiment stations to advance research in farming, ranching and food production, an additional focus is now on the triumvirate areas of agricultural research, teaching and extension.