The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents this week approved construction of the $30 million project that will move facilities of the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Amarillo onto the campus of West Texas A&M University, WTAMU, Canyon.
The Board of Regents also approved the construction of $15 million in repairs to the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Vernon and Texas A&M AgriLife Foundation Seed, which sustained damages from a tornado in May 2022.
“Construction of these projects represents a host of new opportunities to advance the land-grant mission for the benefit of Texas, the U.S. and the world,” said Jeffrey W. Savell, Ph.D., vice chancellor and dean for Agriculture and Life Sciences. “I am elated to see these momentous strides toward increased collaboration across research, extension and teaching initiatives in Texas.”
“These major actions from the Board of Regents support the advancement of leading-edge discovery and innovations, sustainable production systems, stronger economies and healthy human living,” said G. Cliff Lamb, Ph.D., director of Texas A&M AgriLife Research. “It’s advances like these that have underscored a near doubling of our competitive awards in fiscal year 2023 and that now support the continued growth of our research enterprise into the future.”
Relocating the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Amarillo
Funding for moving the Amarillo center to Canyon was approved in May 2022 as a way to complete an agricultural research, education and outreach powerhouse at the WTAMU campus. Construction is expected to wrap up in summer of 2025.
The building will accommodate about 60 employees of AgriLife Research and the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.
Brent Auvermann, Ph.D., director of the center, said AgriLife Research and AgriLife Extension will be strengthened by the synergy of the expertise, organization, programming, educational outreach and student involvement between the center and WTAMU.
“We expect to have greater exposure to the graduate and undergraduate students that WTAMU has because we rely on them so heavily across all of our research programs,” he said. He estimated that about 40 students at any time are already being supervised by AgriLife Research and AgriLife Extension faculty.
Additionally, Auvermann said the co-location of AgriLife Research’s globally recognized program will help build WTAMU’s agricultural research portfolio.
“AgriLife Research and WTAMU have complementary strengths, and working on WTAMU’s campus will make it easier for us to capitalize on them,” he said.
Rebuilding after tornado damage at Vernon
In Vernon, the Texas A&M AgriLife center at Vernon and Foundation Seed will begin construction to repair facilities that sustained a direct hit from the May 2022 tornado, including flattened greenhouses, missing roofs and other damage.
The center’s headquarters building will receive a remodel after the front was damaged and the roof was stripped off. Garage doors, equipment storage areas and greenhouses will be replaced, and so will several vehicles that were severely damaged in the storm. Seed cleaning and warehouse facilities at Foundation Seed will be completely rebuilt.
“Rebuilding and improving these facilities is critically important and will bolster the center’s research and outreach programs,” said Rick Vierling, Ph.D., director of the Texas A&M AgriLife center at Vernon and Foundation Seed. “We are eager to get started on these critical renovations.”
Completion of construction at Vernon is expected in 2024.