BRITISH Columbia’s newest centre of excellence is dedicated to agriculture, with construction progressing at the University of the Fraser Valley on a brand-new barn and greenhouses after an investment of $1 million by government.

“We are planting the seeds of success for students who want to reap an exciting and rewarding career in our province’s vibrant agriculture sector,” said Advanced Education Minister Amrik Virk, who participated in a hard-hat tour of the new facilities. “The new Agriculture Centre of Excellence facilities at UFV are an example of how our flexible and nimble post-secondary education system is adapting to ensure we produce students who can support a strong agricultural sector in B.C.”

The new structures – being built to replace buildings at the former UFV Chilliwack campus on Yale Road – are located at UFV’s Chilliwack campus at Canada Education Park. Facilities will include a demonstration barn and new innovative greenhouses that will provide on-campus venues for students to gain practical hands-on experience, pursue applied research and project opportunities, and perform lab and field exercises, all in a controlled environment.

“The Centre at UFV will help prepare students to succeed as agricultural and business leaders,” said Agriculture Minister Pat Pimm. “Graduates will be well positioned to take advantage of the growing demand for B.C agrifood products locally, nationally and around the world, and contribute to our province’s growing agrifood sector as employees or entrepreneurs.”

In a region well known for its ties to the agriculture sector, UFV is taking a leadership role in developing the Fraser Valley’s economy, including education in the agricultural and agribusiness sectors, and supporting professional functions and trades.

“With the support of government, Chilliwack Economic Partners Corporation, Envision Financial and other community and industry partners, we have made a good start on building our Agriculture Centre of Excellence,” said University of the Fraser Valley President and Vice Chancellor Mark Evered. “UFV is pleased to have this opportunity to contribute to the development of our region and province in a way that builds on the strengths of our valley and university and serves the educational and economic goals of B.C.”

UFV has offered agriculture education programs for more than 35 years with courses in subjects ranging from livestock to horticulture, and provides students with skills for careers in a wide variety of in-demand sectors, including agri-business and livestock.