Colorado State University’s Western Colorado Campus groundbreaking ceremony Aug. 8 signified the beginning of construction for the university’s new campus. The Western Colorado Campus, located at the university’s existing facility in Orchard Mesa, will provide residents of Colorado’s Western Slope with greater access to CSU resources and a better opportunity to interact with the state’s land grant university.
The investment in CSU’s Western Colorado Campus will provide a new facility for research, extension and engagement for the local community. The campus will provide administrative oversight and intellectual leadership for CSU’s Agricultural Experiment Stations (AES) located in Western Colorado — Fruita, Orchard Mesa, Rogers Mesa and Yellow Jacket. The Western Colorado Campus also will house the Western Slope Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, Colorado State Forest Service field office, the CSU Extension Western Regional Office and the CSU Regional Engagement Center.
‘Strong commitment to agriculture’
“Agriculture is at the heart of Colorado’s economy and the CSU Western Campus builds on our university’s strong commitment to agriculture across our state,” said CSU President Tony Frank. “Our local and state leaders have been extremely supportive in helping develop innovative ways for this project to truly serve producers as well as the broader community. Their commitment has really made it possible for us to take these steps to enhance CSU’s presence on the Western Slope.”
CSU’s Orchard Mesa AES programs focus on pomology, viticulture, management of other specialty crops of local interest, and pest management. Emphasis will increase on engagement efforts such as service learning projects that result in the distribution of fruit produced by research projects to hunger relief programs.
Serving the Western Slope
“Our goal is to better serve our Western Slope constituents,” said Dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences Ajay Menon. “This center will ensure that our programs are more effective by pulling together our various areas of expertise and being much more efficient by putting our resources together to meet the needs of our local communities.”
Campus features include a 7,717 square foot state of the art veterinary diagnostic laboratory, 14,095 square foot combined office and classroom building with a teaching kitchen, 100 person capacity classroom and multiple meeting areas.
The Western Slope Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory provides a variety of testing services, with an emphasis on locally pertinent diagnostics, such as necropsy examination of small and large animals, molecular and serologic diagnostics, and parasitology. It also provides handling of samples for all testing available through the CSU Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory system. The laboratory plays an integral role in ensuring the safety of food production, diagnosing zoonotic disease, and supporting the management, care and prevention of diseases in animals.
The Colorado State Forest Service Grand Junction Field Office serves Delta, Garfield, Mesa, Pitkin and Rio Blanco counties. As a service and outreach agency of CSU’s Warner College of Natural Resources, CSFS provides technical forestry assistance, wildfire mitigation expertise, outreach, and education to help landowners and communities achieve their forest management goals.
CSU’s Mesa County Extension office will remain at the Fairgrounds, but there will be an Extension classroom and teaching kitchen for food science and nutrition classes at the new Western Campus. Regional specialists in agricultural business management, small acreage, livestock and range will be housed in the new office and classroom facility. Regional specialists interact with county Extension agents and stakeholders throughout the Western Slope. CSU Extension provides information and education and encourages the application of research-based knowledge in response to local, state, and national issues affecting individuals, youth, families, agricultural enterprises and communities.
Regional Engagement Center
The CSU Regional Engagement Center will support and facilitate community-based research opportunities with faculty, as well as support students by connecting them to internships, apprenticeships and service opportunities. The Regional Engagement Hub Network supports communities by serving as a platform for CSU and the CSU System. The regional hubs offer data and facilitation support for economic, community and workforce challenges and opportunities as well as the bridging initiatives of the CSU System.
“The support of local and state leaders was absolutely critical to making this happen and we are so grateful for their vision and support as we bolster our commitment to the necessity and importance of research in Colorado,” said CSU Vice President for Engagement Lou Swanson.