The University of Missouri College of Agriculture is planning some building upgrades thanks to a sizable gift.

An Illinois-based Agricultural processing company has given a million dollars to the University of Missouri College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources.

Professor Leon Schumacher says Archer Daniels Midland sees the value in investing in Missouri Ag students, many of which the corporation hires upon graduation, and many of which, he says, stay on for quite some time.

Schumacher says the money will go to building upgrades to better facilitate lab and classroom space for the students.

College officials expect the ADM Center for Agricultural Development, which will be renovated from existing laboratory space in the Agricultural Engineering building, to be open for use by the spring of 2014.

Schumacher says the college puts a big emphasis on hands-on training, part of what prepares them to work for companies like Archer Daniels Midland and other large companies.

The college has focused on evolving with the industry, he says, and these upgrades will help. For instance, he says in 1991, students came to department officials and said the name of the college was outdated and didn’t fit their hireability upon graduation. That’s when the school decided to change the name from Agriculture Mechanization to Agriculture Engineering.

He says students felt they weren’t being recruited to work as mechanics, nor did they feel that was where they could best assist in the growing industry.

Agriculture Mechanization, they weren’t being recruited to work as a mechanic, nor did they feel that was where they could best assist.

It’s also a matter of preparing students to feed the world, he says.

ADM agrees.

“As the global population continues to grow, the world is looking toward agriculture to create viable, sustainable solutions to some of the world’s most pressing needs – like an abundant food supply and advanced renewable fuels,” says Michael D’Ambrose, ADM Senior Vice President for Human Resources. “To help our industry meet this challenge, ADM is pleased to invest in the University of Missouri. The ADM Center for Agricultural Development at the University of Missouri will help to develop the next generation of industry leaders.

Archer Daniels Midland Company’s gift of $1 million to support a dedicated laboratory space designed specifically for student experiential learning. The ADM Center for Agricultural Development, which will be located in the Agricultural Engineering building on the MU Campus, will provide space for valuable student-faculty interactions, enhanced student team learning, and capstone design projects.

“We’re proud of our partnership with ADM and the investment they are making in CAFNR and our students,” says Thomas Payne, vice chancellor and dean of the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. “This gift will enhance opportunities for experiential learning in the classroom and collaborative research. It also will provide dedicated space for capstone projects and competitive student teams. The space will help insure that our students are well trained to move into the industry and make significant contributions upon graduation.”

One example of a student project that will benefit from the ADM gift is Torq-N-Tigers, a club that designs and builds a quarter-scale tractor to participate in the American Society of Agricultural Engineers’ national design and tractor-pull competition. The club gives students the opportunity to gain practical experience while developing communication, leadership and teamwork skills.