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glc-photo-OSU.jpg Todd Johnson, OSU Agricultural Communications Services
Oklahoma State University has opened the doors at the new, state-of-the-art Greenhouse Learning Center. Attending the grand opening ceremony, from left, were Dr. Tom Coon, OSU vice president of agricultural programs; Dr. Bruce Dunn, professor of floriculture and departmental greenhouse coordinator; Dr. Doug Hallenbeck, vice president of student affairs; Lou Watkins, OSU regent; Secretary of Agriculture Blayne Arthur; Calvin Anthony, OSU regent; and Gary Clark, senior vice president and general counsel.

Greenhouse Learning Center to create hands-on experiences for OSU students

Grand opening held for the $6 million, on-campus facility.

The grand opening of Oklahoma State University's $6 million, state-of-the-art Greenhouse Learning Center was celebrated last week by more than 200 students, faculty and staff. 

Dr. Tom Coon, OSU’s vice president of agricultural programs, said the facility will be instrumental in expanding and promoting agricultural opportunities for OSU students.

“Some of the greatest opportunities in expanding agriculture are putting new technologies to work in plant production,” Coon said. “This investment, supported by donors, our students and our state and federal funding, gives us a gigantic leap forward and equips our faculty and students with opportunities to learn how to adopt these advances into new innovations. This facility also will help attract students to the program."

The Greenhouse Learning Center features six greenhouses, including an isolated entomology greenhouse; and a headhouse, which includes a classroom, office space and plant-preparation area, as well as storage space for soil, equipment and chemicals such as fertilizer and pest-management materials. The large foyer provides space for student club meetings. The facility also houses cutting-edge irrigation systems, intense climate and humidity control and other technology standards in today’s horticulture industry.

OSU Professor of Floriculture and Departmental Greenhouse Coordinator Dr. Bruce Dunn says he's excited to have this new facility on campus.

“The new Greenhouse Learning Center will help our students be leaders in the industry,” Dunn said. “We can teach the theory of horticulture anywhere, but this facility will provide our students with hands-on learning opportunities that will make them competitive in today’s job market.”

Dr. Lynn Brandenberger, interim head of OSU’s Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, said the new complex provides students with many more learning opportunities.

“The new teaching greenhouse will allow students an opportunity to learn in a modern, up-to-date facility. As students graduate and move into leadership positions in the industry, their experiences at Oklahoma State University will prepare them to take the reins to continue the growth of the green industry in Oklahoma and beyond,” Brandenberger said.

The Plaza

The east side of the building will feature the Plaza, which will be used for teaching purposes, as well as beautification. The design for the Plaza came about through a student competition in which six designs were submitted for public vote. Construction on the winning design is scheduled to begin in a few weeks.

The area will feature raised-bed gardens, memorial benches, pergola, agronomists crops and fruits and vegetables, said Dunn. “We’ll feature some Oklahoma Proven selections, along with an area showcasing OSU turfgrass."

This space will also be utilized by a number of professors in the horticulture and landscape architecture department, said Randy Raper, director of capital projects and assistant director, Oklahoma Agricultural Experiment Station.

To help complete the Plaza, additional funding and naming opportunities will be available, including memorial benches and the overhead pergola, Raper added.

Other Benefactors

The new center also will benefit students in agricultural education, communications and leadership; plant and soil sciences; natural resources ecology and management; and entomology and plant pathology. In addition, the facility will create opportunities for more Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service programs and better support existing curriculum.

DONORS

The Greenleaf Nursery Headhouse is named in honor of Greenleaf Nursery, who donated $1 million before construction began.

“We are proud to contribute to this facility and believe it will create an enhanced opportunity for both faculty and students to do research and also have a great educational experience,” said Randy Davis, president and CEO of Greenleaf Nursery and OSU alum.

Southwood Landscape and Garden Center’s $25,000 donation, along with Southwood’s co-founder Joe Schulte’s donation of $25,000, contributed to the center’s state-of-the-art facility, which is named the Southwood Landscape and Nursery Prep Area. It is his hope this area will help students become more acclimated to working in greenhouses.

“Someone seeking a job in the horticulture field needs not only book and classroom learning about plants, but also the hands-on, tactile experience that working in a learning greenhouse can provide,” Schulte said.

Private naming and funding opportunities for the Greenhouse Learning Center still are available for those who wish to support this effort. Please contact James Ambrose at the OSU Foundation at 405-385-5601 or jambrose@osugiving.com for more information.

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