The Darr Agricultural Center, located on 90-acres near the intersection of Kansas Expressway and Sunshine Street in southwest Springfield, serves as a laboratory and field experience classroom for the study of livestock management, equine studies, horticulture, agronomy, animal science, and wildlife conservation and management.
Approximately 3,000-4,000 student and constituent visits are made to the Darr Agricultural Center each year. By locating the center in a metropolitan area, the Darr Agricultural Center helps demonstrate to students and the public the unique role of agriculture and its traditional rural roots in supporting urban, modern America. The center exists to not only support students in their agricultural endeavors but to educate citizens about the essential function of agriculture in everyday life.
The beginning of the Darr Agricultural Center
The Darr Agricultural Center (DAC) is located on property obtained from the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare in 1968 for the specific purposes of providing “educational and applied research” programs in agriculture to the citizens of southwest Missouri. Originally, the DAC was called the SMSU Agricultural Research and Demonstration Center. In 2000, the name was changed when improvements to the center were initiated through a generous donation by William H. Darr.
Until 1989, the facility was used exclusively for horticulture and agronomy projects with all livestock teaching and research activities being conducted in cooperation with private producers. In 1989, the University constructed a 160’ x 220’ metal building to serve as a main arena for the expanded horse program, which had received a series of donations initiated by Larry and Marilyn Daniel in 1985. A budget for this program was then established by University President Marshall Gordon.
Horses were the only livestock in residence at the DAC until 2004 when Ed Pinegar and Darr helped establish a herd of cattle on the site through donations. While most cattle reside at the University’s Bakers Acres (near Marshfield, Mo.), short-term residence of beef animals occur at the DAC for teaching and research purposes.
Phases of expansion
In 2005, the DAC began a series of three phases of construction aimed at expanding and bettering the DAC facility. Phase I, which began in 2005, included updates to the DAC entrance, fence and the construction of a 100’ x 80’ multi-purpose, open-sided barn. This project was funded again by the support of Darr.
In 2006, phase II of the project began, which involved extensive renovations and expansions to the DAC’s main horse arena, Pinegar Arena. The expansion added arena seating, office space, bovine and equine handling facilities, a research laboratory, a classroom, stalling for horses and a two-bedroom apartment for graduate student housing. These improvements were made possible through Darr, Rosalie Wooten, state funding and a major donation by Pinegar.
Construction and paving of parking lots and roads were completed through the generous donation of Journagan Construction Company.
In 2010, phase III of the DAC expansion began, a project led by a private gift from the Darr Family Foundation. Phase III expansion of the DAC will provide Missouri State students with state-of-the-art classroom and lab facilities and Springfield and the surrounding community with much-needed event and banquet space.
The newly constructed Christopher S. Bond Learning Center is located just inside the DAC entrance and represents the most significant portion of phase III construction. The new building will include many elements to enhance agricultural education:
- A large classroom and lecture hall equipped with an animal entrance and specialized pen
- Classrooms with distance learning technology
- Laboratories with the equipment needed to stream video and audio transmissions
- Laboratory equipment that facilitates student and faculty research in the areas of water quality, soil chemistry, horticultural sciences, animal physiology and more
- Conference space and a banquet hall accommodating up to 400 available for public and private events as well as large scale educational opportunities