Connecting agriculture to STEM at Purdue

The Land O'Lakes, Inc. Center for Experiential Learning was dedicated on March 22

Creighton Hall And Land O

Our relationship with Purdue University has always been based on a passion for cultivating the next generation of talent for ag careers. That’s why the Land O’Lakes Foundation donated to the Land O’Lakes, Inc. Center for Experiential Learning and the Purina Pavilion, which are connected to the new Hobart and Russell Creighton Hall of Animal Sciences on the Purdue campus.

The Animal Sciences complex is 123,000 square feet in totality. The Land O’Lakes, Inc. Center for Experiential Learning houses new state-of-the-art research facilities and teaching areas for meat and animal sciences. This center will give students enhanced research opportunities in agriculture and more hands-on experiences in everything from protein sciences to livestock handling.

Building our way

None of this happened overnight. The culmination of three years of anticipation and building were realized last week when the building was officially dedicated on March 22. Beth Ford, executive vice president and chief operating officer for Land O’Lakes businesses, employees from the Land O’Lakes Foundation, Jeff Troike, a Land O’Lakes, Inc. board member, and some of our staff (who happened to be Purdue alumni) were all in attendance for the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

As Beth Ford said while speaking to students at an ag econ class at Purdue: “Ag is not only the greatest growth industry of our generation, it’s also incredibly meaningful work.”

This is precisely why we are investing in ag education for the next generation, and leaning our strategic investments toward the cutting edge of technologies and processes in agriculture. It’s not enough for students to think of agriculture in terms of stereotypes. Through places such as the Land O’Lakes, Inc. Center for Experiential Learning, students can discover how promising and varied ag careers truly can be.

Open for learning

The buildings were officially opened for the start of the spring 2018 semester, which began in January. Students and faculty have been attending classes and getting to know the name “Land O’Lakes” in a new way for a few months now.

Inside of the Land O’Lakes Center is also the Boilermaker Butcher Block. This is a retail butcher shop that sells all different types and cuts of meats. Animal sciences students prepare the meats, learning about food safety and quality, as well as how to cut, tenderize and store fresh meat.

The attached Purina Pavilion is almost 8,000 square feet in size, and is a large, open floorplan area that is multi-purpose (but mostly intended for live animals) and has bleacher seating for large crowds.

The most impactful part of this building is the fact that it brought the entire department of Animal Sciences together into one space where they can collaborate, learn and innovate together. Students studying with concentrations in biosciences and those with concentrations in products will have a shared space.

It may be called the Land O’Lakes, Inc. Center for Experiential Learning, but it’s already obvious that this space belongs to the students, the researchers and the next generation of ag. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.