Orr Corp. in Pike County Receives Donation For New Facility for U of I Extension, JWCC

By Benjamin Cox on August 6, 2020 at 10:06pm

L to R: Larry Fischer, JWCC Board of Trustee member, past chair; JWCC President Michael Elbe; Mike Tenhouse, JWCC Chair/Assistant Professor Ag Sciences; Matt Bradshaw, Orr Corporation Chair (not pictured but present Shannon Ganschow, Compeer, Director of Credit)

A Farm Credit Illinois cooperative presented a check yesterday in Pike County to jump start the building of a multipurpose agriculture facility.

Compeer Financial presented a $300,000 check to members of the Orr Corporation Board to help offset the costs of a $2 million facility to be built in Baylis at the University of Illinois Agricultural Research & Demonstration Center and the John Wood Community College Agricultural Education Center. The 24,000 square foot facility will compliment the 278 acres used for research for plant agronomy and animal sciences.

John Wood Community College Ag Chairman Mike Tenhouse says that the facility will provide 3 major functions. The first component will help serve all of the facility’s entities: “It will help provide some office space, potentially for John Wood employees but also to service the University of Illinois Cooperative Extension. There are a couple of other agencies that have expressed some interest about having a presence there. It also expands the classroom area for John Wood as part of our ag educational center.”

Tenhouse says the second component to the building will be the largest: “The second component will be the expo or the arena center, where again we would have about an 80′ x 120′ covered arena that can be used as a variety of venues whether it would have to do with our school and our livestock judging activities. Also, with the University of Illinois, it would host all their local field days for crops and beef research facilities that are located close to us. Then, it would also be open to the area to be used for any type of event or activity where a facility of that kind might not be available.”

Tenhouse says that the third component will involve animal biology research: “We are hoping to plan for animal care unit to go on the back of this building where we could have a structure where we could particularly house large and small animals, so that we can expand on what we do already in the animal science and animal husbandry area. With John Wood courses and classwork, we offer beef management, equine science, vet assistant’s courses; and this would allow us to have a better place for lab activities for in-class, hands-on type of activities. We would also like to be able to open it open and allow the public to see how production agriculture, at least on a smaller scale as we are able to present it at the facility, how things happen. It’s hard to find both access to many of those types of facilities, and so we are hoping to be able to do that as well.”

Tenhouse says the check presentation was a kickoff to a large fundraising effort for donations to the project. Tenhouse says about $570,000 has also been committed through private donation to also help with the costs: “We are trying to establish or make aware to the public that we are out there looking and soliciting for donors. We have a couple other trusts and grant areas that we have been exploring pretty heavy, and hopefully, those monies will come through as well. It would put us over and into the $1 million dollar mark, and then, smaller gifts and contributions could get us there. There are other things we are also going to be looking for [to help fund the project.]”

Since 1979, residents of Adams, Brown, Calhoun, Cass, Greene, Jersey, Macoupin, Morgan, Pike, Schuyler, and Scott counties have used the Orr Center’s research to inform local farming decisions.