New Arkansas Valley Campus breaks ground

Arkansas Valley campus groundbreaking

A groundbreaking ceremony for the Colorado State University Arkansas Valley Campus took place Sept. 4, 2018. From left: William Nobles, Kathay Rennels, Bruce Fickenscher, Mike Bartolo, Jessica Davis, Kevin Karney, Keith Goodwin, Matt Heimerich and Craig Demmon. Credit: William A. Cotton/CSU Photography

The groundbreaking ceremony for Colorado State University’s Arkansas Valley Campus in Rocky Ford Sept. 4 signified greater access to research and resources for residents of Eastern Colorado, as well as a better opportunity to interact with the state’s land grant university.

“Agriculture is core to the economy of Colorado and this region, and Colorado State University is focused on building an integrated research and outreach network that serves the specific production and research across our state,” said CSU President Tony Frank. “The support of our community partners, in particular the collaboration with the Otero County commissioners, has been key to bringing together this facility and these resources for the benefit of the Arkansas Valley and the people of Colorado, and we’re grateful for that partnership.”

Administrative leadership center

The Arkansas Valley Campus will be the administrative home and intellectual leadership center for the agricultural experiment stations in southeastern Colorado. Activities there include optimization of crop production systems, novel horticultural crop development, agricultural water efficiency, and agricultural water quality research.

“CSU remains committed to supporting agriculture across Colorado, and the redevelopment of this facility will allow us to enhance and expand our research, extension and engagement activities,” said College of Agricultural Sciences Dean Ajay Menon. “The vast impact the Arkansas Valley has on the vitality of Colorado agriculture and the vibrant agriculture industry, rooted in cutting-edge science and delivered through the new campus, will secure the future of the region, and its benefit will be borne by all of Colorado.”

Speakers at the Arkansas Valley campus groundbreaking

Otero County Commissioner Kevin Karney, CSU Associate Vice President for Engagement Kathay Rennels, and CSU College of Agricultural Sciences Dean Ajay Menon at the groundbreaking event. Credit: William A. Cotton/CSU Photography

Serving the eastern plains

The campus will serve the eastern plains from its home in Rocky Ford and will house the regional Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, CSU Extension Southeastern Colorado regional personnel and Otero County Extension personnel.

“The co-location of our facilities represents an exciting milestone in the 130-year history of our Center.  I look forward to the opportunity to work with other CSU entities to address the issues facing Southeastern Colorado,” said Mike Bartolo, manager of the Arkansas Valley Research Center.

“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 Lou Swanson, CSU’s vice president for Engagement. “The state representatives and the county commissioners we’ve worked with have really catalyzed the state legislature by showing that this research and engagement center is a great idea that’s worth funding because it will provide significant benefits to the people of Colorado.”

CSU Arkansas Valley Campus programs

  • The Arkansas Valley Research Center (Rocky Ford) AES programs focus on irrigated crop production with a particular emphasis on specialty crops and optimal water use. Alfalfa, corn, dry beans, small grains, soybeans, sorghum, onions, melons, tomatoes, cucumbers, potatoes and peppers are representative of crops grown under irrigation. The research center was established in 1888 as the Bent Agricultural Experiment Station and is the oldest continuously operated agricultural experiment station, outside of Fort Collins, in Colorado. The AVRC serves the research needs of the irrigated farming area of southeast Colorado known as the Arkansas Valley, extending from Pueblo County on the west to the Kansas border. It also includes irrigated areas associated with the tributaries to the Arkansas River in El Paso, Huerfano and Las Animas counties.
  • Colorado State University Extension/Southeast Area is a trusted resource for building and strengthening Colorado communities in seven Southeast Colorado counties, and serves as the front door to the university. 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. Southeast Area Extension staff throughout the state are dedicated to serving current and future needs of Coloradans by providing educational information and programs that are designed to meet the unique needs of each of Southeast Colorado’s seven counties. Extension offers a wide variety of programs and educational classes, teaching people how to apply science-based information in their daily lives in order to make informed choices about everything from personal finances and healthy living to community issues.
  • The Rocky Ford Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory provides a wide variety of testing services locally and handling of samples for all testing available through the CSU Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory system. This laboratory provides full necropsy capabilities for large and small animals, as well as histopathologic examination of surgical biopsies. The services are offered by a Board Certified Veterinary Toxicologist. Consultation with fellow pathologists at the main laboratory is provided as well for difficult or problematic cases. The RFVDL is also a member of the Food Emergency Response Network (FERN), which is organized to ensure inter-agency coordination of potential food contamination emergencies.
  • Colorado State University’s Office of Engagement includes CSU Extension, the Colorado Water Institute, CSU Online, Community and Economic Development and the Regional Engagement Hub Network. The Regional Engagement Hubs are a network and a platform for the CSU System. Embedded in regions in eastern, central and western Colorado, they serve to connect that region to the university and the university to the region. The regional staff tackles workforce and economic development challenges through providing data, facilitating group decision making and strategy, and training and education.
Arkansas Valley campus goundbreaking field day

Arkansas Valley Research Center manager Mike Bartolo talks about vegetable crop research during a field day, held in conjunction with the groundbreaking. Credit: William A. Cotton/CSU Photography