The new Jordan Agricultural Research Center at Fresno State will provide students with all the tools they need to study the farming and food processing industries without having to leave campus.
The 30,000-square-foot center features laboratories aimed at researching the agriculture industry, focusing on everything from plants and pest control to water quality and wine.
At the grand opening Friday, Fresno State President Joseph Castro said the center symbolizes “an exciting era for research” at the university. The center is the only one of its kind in the California State University system.
“We are at the epicenter for agriculture … and have the opportunity worldwide to become a leader with the next generation of industry leaders and innovators,” he said.
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More than 2,500 students are enrolled in the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology – nearly double the number of students majoring in agriculture programs 10 years ago.
The three-story building includes a floor dedicated to the California Water Institute, and rooms focused on robotics, environmental issues, microbiology and more.
The center is named after philanthropist Dee Jordan and her family of farmers. Jordan died in 2015 but donated more than $29 million to Fresno State’s Ag One Foundation, which helped bring the center to life. The donation is the single largest cash donation ever given to the CSU system.
Chris Henson, Jordan’s daughter, said at Friday’s event that the center has the power to change the farming industry and provide help after California’s drought.
“As most of you know, California produces more than half of the country’s vegetables, fruits and nuts, and our own Central Valley is its hub. We also know that there are many challenges for the agriculture industry, both present and future,” she said. “The Jordan center will provide an environment in which solutions to these challenges will be discovered and implemented, thus securing the future of agriculture, not only in the Valley but throughout the United States and beyond.”
Other donations include a $500,000 endowment from the Wonderful Co. and $200,000 from Bayer to sponsor an entomology lab, where researchers will study colonies of insects to develop pest management strategies.
Julie Pedraza, a plant science senior headed for grad school at Fresno State, said that for her, the center means less commuting out of the area to conduct her research. Now, she will have everything she needs on campus.
“This has actually created a new generation of research,” Pedraza said. “It gives (students) more opportunities and more choice about what they want to study.”
Entomology professor Jacob Wenger said he hopes the center will open up more grant-funding opportunities, which will in turn allow students to conduct more important research.
“It makes us more competitive in terms of research. When grant agencies look at who they want to fund, there is a real question of, ‘Do they have the facilities to do that?’ ” he said. “And now we can honestly say, ‘Yes, we do.’ ”