The footings have been installed and concrete has been poured for the new agricultural science building at Wilber-Clatonia Public Schools.
Although classes won’t be held in the ag center until second semester of the 2020-2021 school year, the anticipation is growing as the project gets underway.
The ag department had been looking for ways to expand for a few years, and with a $1 million donation given by Wilber resident Lambert Zoubek last spring, it became a reality.
“As of this week, the (building) pieces are on site and the footings are being poured,” Wilber-Clatonia Superintendent Ray Collins said.
Hampton Construction of Lincoln has until January to complete the project, although Collins hopes completion of the building exterior will be around September.
The building will consist of a live animal lab and meat lab, along with a classroom.
“This project could show students really the production of birth to cuts of meat on the table and we’ll have facilities to do that,” Collins said. “I think this is going to be fairly unique to the state of Nebraska.”
Wilber-Clatonia ag educator Dusten Bruss said with the new facilities located near the back end of the school, near the greenhouse, students’ knowledge in all areas of agriculture will be enhanced.
“It’s not only going to benefit meat science or animal science, but plant science as well, because we’ll be able to use the greenhouse as a whole,” Bruss said.
Bruss hopes to incorporate plant production for ecosystems and food for the animals.
With the agricultural community always changing, both Bruss and Collins hope the ag center will help students develop skills not only for possible future careers, but provide even more educational opportunities in other areas.
“I think with a facility like this, it opens the door to strengthen a lot of programs within our system,” Collins said.
Learning for grades kindergarten through high school will be incorporated as time goes on.
For instance, in the meat science lab, students will be able to conduct wholesale cuts and do taste testing and in the animal science lab, they will be able to give vaccinations to animals. Younger students will be able to conduct insect and soil studies.
The ag center will have fire sprinklers, cameras and a fire-rated wall between the animal lab and rest of the building, all for safety.
Collins said the hope is to have the building accessible 365 days a year, helping students stay involved with the FFA chapter and beyond.
It’s also possible that students develop leadership skills through walking visitors, local colleges and ag experts through the facility and showing them what Wilber-Clatonia is all about.
“I think the facility allows us to expand the hands-on learning not for just kids today, but for kids in the future,” Collins said. “It’s really something to get excited about.”