MORRILL — Morrill Public Schools superintendent Joseph Sherwood welcomed a small crowd Monday afternoon as board members and others turned over shovels of the first ground for the Agriculture Education Complex at the former Brownfield Park.
Shane Bucholz, Morrill High School ag teacher, said he was excited for the future of agricultural education and the opportunity to have hands-on, applied opportunities for his students now and in the future.
“We can know the knowledge and demonstrate the knowledge versus learning content from only a book or PowerPoint,” Bucholz said.
The recently hired ag teacher said students getting out and applying lessons in-person “is giving the students the skills to prepare them for when they leave my classroom.”
He said he also hopes to grow the FFA program with the increased aspect of hands-on learning. Bucholz said he envisions there will be benefits to the community and other schools with the completion of the complex.
A portion of land is set aside to establish a community garden that is planned to start in spring 2022. The garden will have dedicated rows and plots for members of the community and community clubs. There will also be plots set aside for preschool and elementary students.
The ag department will help with upkeep of the planned garden and hopes to be able to put food back into the community.
“Freshly produced local food is always a good way to be able to give back to a community,” Bucholz said.
General contractors Russ and Curtis Reisig of Russell’s Excavation & Construction intend to begin the first phase of construction this Wednesday.
“It looks like digging will start on Wednesday to avoid the chance of rain Tuesday. The first phase starts with footing, plumbers and electricians will get the wiring and plumbing done then concrete will go in,” Sherwood said.
It is anticipated that this phase will be complete before the first freeze, Sherwood said.
“It should happen in the next three to four weeks,” he said.
The second phase of construction is the steel building, which is on backorder at B&C Steel.
“It’s already been ordered but there is a backlog and our steel hasn’t been fabricated yet, maybe January or February” Sherwood said.
The 4,800-square-foot complex that is planned for the property will be used to cultivate many areas of plant and animal science including a produce processing kitchen, animal exam room and housing area, tree farm and classroom.
Sherwood said he thanked the many people who have put countless hours into the planning of the complex including the facilities committee that is chaired by Morrill School Board member Art Steiner.
Participating in the groundbreaking ceremony were representatives from Platte Valley Bank, Kelley Bean, B&C Steel, Russell’s Excavation &nConstruction and Morrill School Board President David Sherrod.
The project is slated to be completed in early 2022.
“I think this will be done by the end of March, middle of April, depending on weather and steel arrival,” Sherwood said.