Source: CVDaily Feed

WELLSVILLE – Two major projects were recently completed at Utah State University’s Sam Skaggs Family Equine Education Center. A new classroom building opened for use and 264 solar panels were installed that will supply power to the Matt Hillyard Animal, Teaching and Research Center.

The new classroom building has been in use for a little more than a week now. It is another telling sign of the progress that USU’s equine program has made, which has more than doubled its enrollment numbers over the past four years.

“The planning has been in place for several years with incremental development of the physical facilities for being able to teach all components of the equine science program,” said Dirk Vanderwall, who is the head of the Department of Animal, Dairy and Veterinary Sciences at USU. “In this, the new classroom building is the latest piece of putting all of the physical facilities together to have everything we need at the equine center for all our classroom teaching activities and hands-on, horse-related teaching activities for the equine science program.”

Jason Romney teaches classes in the new building. Before it was complete, he taught his classes at locations from the main campus in Logan to the university’s farm. He said all the equine classes are now able to be taught in one spot. That, combined with the technology in the new building has made teaching more efficient.

“It’s right outside our riding arena and so we literally can have the hands-on and the in-classroom portions right next to each other,” he said. “Even if we need to do both of those in the same class hour, we can do that. We can be in the classroom then we can be right outside and be hands-on.”

Vanderwall said he expects continued growth from the equine science program and that the new building will accommodate it.

“I suspect (the new facilities) will foster further interest in students coming to Utah State to study equine science,” he said. “Sort of a, ‘If you build it they will come.’”

The new solar panels were funded by Rocky Mountain Power’s Blue Sky program, which supports renewable energy. According to Vanderwall, the panels will also be used as a teaching tool. They will be set up so students can monitor how much energy they produce. They may help educate more than just the students as well.

“They are highly visible along Highway 89/91,” Vanderwall said. “So it’s a public information opportunity also.”