UFV has committed $750,000 toward the construction of the first stage of a new BC School of Agriculture on its Chilliwack campus at the Canada Education Park, and two key partners plus community donors have brought that total to $2.2 million.
UFV will pay $750,000 of the cost of building the first phase of the centre, which will include a greenhouse and a barn. The university has a commitment from the Chilliwack Economic Partners Corporation (CEPCO) for $250,000 in funding. The provincial government has also committed to providing $1 million.
This three-way partnership to provide initial funding will enable the university to build a greenhouse and barn that will open by Sept 2013.
Other community partners are also stepping up to the plate. Envision Financial has committed $150,000 to name the Envision Financial Demonstration Barn (a sod-turning was held June 18).
“Envision Financial has a long history of supporting the agriculture industry. In fact, one of our founding organizations was established to meet the needs of Fraser Valley farmers,” says Shelley Besse, president of Envision Financial. “We also have a strong commitment to give back to the local community and are a long-time supporter of UFV. That’s why we’re proud to be contributing to the development of UFV’s BC School of Agriculture in such a significant way.”
Financial support from the community is vital to building the best possible facility, according to UFV VP external Harv McCullough.
“We are hoping that this commitment from UFV, the provincial government, and CEPCO will demonstrate that we are serious about continuing to run, and build upon, a high-quality agriculture program in Chilliwack,” said McCullough. “We really do need the support of the agriculture community, both corporate and individual donors, to make this a truly state-of-the-art facility. We are looking for an additional $1.3 million so we can expand the facilities that we are building and equip them properly with the latest technology. We want our students to learn in the best environment possible.”
UFV president Mark Evered is grateful for the support of the community and the government.
“As the university for the Fraser Valley region we recognize the importance of agriculture to the ongoing economic development of our communities, and we are committed to a vision of a British Columbia School of Agriculture based at UFV,” said Evered. “We are grateful for the support of our government and our community. We know that our community shares this commitment to agriculture, not just as a past economic driver, but as a future one. To continue to develop this sector we need well educated graduates conversant with the latest innovations in this field.”
UFV has been offering agriculture-related education with a focus on horticulture and livestock since its early years as Fraser Valley College. When the university moved most of its Chilliwack-based facilities across town to its new location at the Canada Education Park in Spring 2012, the Agriculture departmental offices and classrooms came along, but there was not sufficient funding attached to that project to build a new barn and greenhouse.
If you’re interested in discussing ways of supporting agriculture programming at UFV, contact McCullough at firstname.lastname@example.org .
This article is featured in the June 2013 issue of UFV Skookum magazine.