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March 23, 2012

Blinn displays new agricultural complex to the public

$3 million center houses one of the top ag programs in the state

More than 200 visitors attended Blinn College’s presentation of its new $3 million agricultural complex on its Brenham campus Friday morning. The W.J. “Bill” Rankin Agricultural Complex houses classrooms, laboratories, offices, an ag shop and a livestock show arena. There is also a fully-automated greenhouse on the grounds.

Blinn College displayed its new $3 million agricultural complex to the public for the first time Friday morning during a ribbon-cutting ceremony on the school’s Brenham campus.

The 20,200 square-foot W.J. “Bill” Rankin Agricultural Complex houses classrooms, laboratories, offices, an ag shop and a livestock show arena. There is also a fully-automated greenhouse on the grounds.

“To all those who helped to make this wonderful facility possible, we at Blinn College would like to say thank you,” Blinn College President Harold Nolte. “This outstanding complex will allow Blinn’s state-recognized agricultural program to reach even greater heights in the years to come.”

The facility was named after W.J. “Bill” Rankin, a lifelong resident of Washington County and the chief financial officer at Blue Bell Creameries. Rankin’s grandfather, Albert Stone, was a state senator in the 1930s and was instrumental in the legislation that enabled Blinn to become the first county-owned junior college.

The Division of Agriculture and Applied Technology is one of the fastest growing and largest divisions at the Blinn College with almost 800 students currently enrolled – roughly four times the size of any other two-year agricultural program in the state. Blinn offers agriculture classes on all of its campuses, with the Rankin Complex serving as the program’s hub. The new complex is more than three times larger than the previous ag center.

“This is a wonderful, wonderful facility,” said State Rep. Lois W. Kolkhorst (R-Brenham). “As we become a more urban state, facilities like this are imperative. Blinn College is a jewel in the crown of the state of Texas.”

In addition to its excellence in the classroom, Blinn offers extracurricular educational activities in the areas of livestock judging, agriculture club, wildlife, agriculture mechanics, horticulture and agriculture sciences. Blinn’s livestock judging team won its sixth national championship in the program’s nine-year history earlier this month.

Blinn’s agriculture division sent more than 90 students to volunteer as judges at county fairs throughout the region last year, and Blinn agriculture students also volunteer with Texas Parks & Wildlife and the Coastal Conservation Association and support 4-H and FFA with events such as the upcoming agricultural mechanics show in April.

“We’ve had great people in our division for years, and now with the ability to combine our people with this new facility, the sky is the limit,” said Division of Agriculture and Applied Technologies Chair Doug Pierce.