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MSU and SPS Break Ground on New Ag Education Center
Missouri Ag Connection - 12/04/2020

Springfield Public Schools and Missouri State University broke ground on a new agriculture education magnet school for Springfield students on Thursday at the William H. Darr Agricultural Center. The project is a collaboration of Missouri State and Springfield Public Schools and is made possible by a generous donation from William H. and Virginia Darr and the Darr Family Foundation.

When completed in spring of 2022, the new agricultural academy will offer a hands-on learning experience for students interested in agricultural careers. The $6.7 million project will include classroom space, greenhouse, garden and demonstration kitchen. The academy will be able to serve up to 150 students in grades 4-6.

"The generous gift of the Darr Family Foundation and the partnership of Missouri State University enable SPS to give more students access to unique programs which they find to be engaging, relevant and personal," said Dr. John Jungmann, superintendent of Springfield Public Schools. "We believe this academy will help students better understand the important role agriculture plays in Missouri and challenge them to explore ways they can be active participants in that heritage."

The agricultural academy will be the newest choice magnet program to be offered by SPS. Others currently available include the Health Sciences Academy, Academy of Fine and Performing Arts, Academy of Exploration and Wonders of the Ozarks Learning Facility. All of these programs are housed on the premises of community partners and enable students to become immersed in studying a specific area of interest.

Student representatives from several of the academies were present and assisted with the groundbreaking event.

"We're excited this collaborative project is taking off," said MSU President Clif Smart. "Soon, many Springfield students will have access to a modern, fully equipped facility where they can dive deep into learning all about agriculture."

The Darr Family Foundation's investment in the agricultural academy represents the largest known gift in Springfield Public Schools' history.

According to Brent Dunn, executive director of MSU Foundation, the Darr Family Foundation's gift funds more than the school building.

"The gift also funds a new education building at the Darr Agricultural Center for MSU students, which is a goal of the university's Onward, Upward campaign," Dunn said.

Missouri State will own the school building and Springfield Public Schools will provide teachers, curriculum and other educational supplies. Students will be randomly selected to attend the agricultural academy through an application and lottery drawing process.

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