A new farmhouse sits atop a grassy hill on Northwest’s R.T. Wright Farm, where the community celebrated its completion with a ribbon cutting and detailed tour of the farm manager’s countryside home.
The celebration took place at 4 p.m. Sept. 4 at the Wright Farm, two miles north of Northwest’s campus at Icon Road and Highway 71.
Northwest partnered with the Maryville School District’s Northwest Technical School, where high school students worked with construction professionals to construct the 1,300-square-foot home. The new house replaces an old home on the property, consisting of three bedrooms and two bathrooms in an open floor concept, featuring a two car garage.
The NTS has a class for students interested in construction named “Building Trades,” composed of students who work on year-long projects for the class. Last year’s project was the new farmhouse.
Jay Drake teaches building trades at the NTS. He said the farmhouse project provided students with insight on how construction projects actually work.
“Our students get a lot of hands-on experience, since they are involved in the whole building process,” Drake said. “They are required to work on a timeline, one that aligns well with the class and makes our buildings the best they can be structurally.”
Local construction professionals installed the concrete, electrical and plumbing, but the high school students worked with building materials with instruction from Drake.
The home received a donation providing for fiberglass insulation from Ripple Glass, a Kansas City, Missouri, recycling company that recognized Northwest as its Recycling Program of the Year.
Sen. Dan Hegeman, R-Mo. and State Representative Allen Andrews, R-Mo. spoke at the grand opening event, commemorating the agriculture sciences programs at Northwest.
“It was interesting, Senator Hegeman and I were just brief, earlier,” Andrews said. “Some of the things that are happening here at Northwest in agriculture is just astounding — the plethora of individuals coming together and supporting the University to make things happen.”
According to Rodney Barr, the Director of the School of Agriculture Sciences at Northwest, the R.T. Wright farm has been on campus for almost 50 years. The farmhouse replaced was 45 years old.
Farm manager Jim Husz said the new home aligns with the programs goals and vision for the farm long-term.
“The first thing anyone seen was the run-down farmhouse,” Husz said. “We actually heard comments to that nature.”
Husz went on to say that another driving factor in building a new home was how it was more energy efficient. He said while the University upgrades its buildings, specifically on the farm, they look to align them with the University farm’s master plan.
“In that plan — new farm house, the ag learning center, but moreover we’ve got stages planned for various operating facilities with our swine (and) dairy,” Husz said. “ Our beef project is already started that initiative. It’s not complete but it’s the most advanced we’ve got.”
An additional improvement planned for the School of Agriculture Sciences is the addition of the Agriculture Learning Center. The University is actively raising funds for an $8.5 million building to serve the purpose of providing an area for students to conduct research and scholarly activities in the field of agriculture.
Through a $1 million investment, Northwest is working to improve the “front door” of the Wright Farm, including roadway, entrance, signage and fencing improvements for overall beautification to the 448-acre farm.
The Director of the School of Agriculture Sciences at Northwest, Rodney Barr helped structure the farm’s master plan. He noted the farm hasn’t been a large focus for funding in the past.
“For a large portion of that there wasn’t a lot of investment into the farm,” Barr said. “With limited resources we haven't been able to do that, until about six years ago…”
President John Jasinski attended the event, sharing words of encouragement with the agriculture department.
“We’re aligning with business and industry, and what the needs are out there,” Jasinski said. “The ag learning center, ladies and gentlemen, is going to be a reality.”
The building will include space for agriculture industry meetings, workshops, future shows and career development events as well as the promotion of agriculture literacy.
The University noted each improvement is based on the focus of providing students with hands-on, profession based experiences in the area of Agriculture science.