The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

WSU breaks ground on new Plant Science Building

U.S. Agriculture Secretary, WSU alumna Sen. Patty Murray and U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers among those in attendance
Wendy Powers, Elizabeth Chilton, Patty Murray, Tom Vilsack, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Chavonda Jacobs-Young and Simon Liu breacking ground at the ceremony

On Tuesday the United States Department of Agriculture – Agricultural Research Services celebrated the groundbreaking ceremony of the new plant sciences building that will be built where Johnson Hall once stood on the WSU campus. 

“This groundbreaking is a testament to the power of innovative and meaningful science,” Tara McHugh, USDA Pacific Northwest director, said at the ceremony.

The new ARS Plant Science Building is to be constructed on the Pullman campus of WSU and develop solutions for scientific challenges in fields like horticulture, plant pathology, crop and soil science and plant biochemistry, according to WSU’s College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences.

The building will be constructed on the ground where Johnson Hall once stood, which had started demolishment in October 2022.

This new building has been in the works for many years, U.S. Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers, said. 

“It has been in the making since 2003. So, ever since I got to Congress in 2004, it’s been something that we’ve been working on together and securing nearly $125 million in federal funding to help advance this project that will break ground today is really about delivering results and making a difference here in eastern Washington,” McMorris Rodgers said. 

Even with the time it took to get this project together many staff, stakeholders and other supporters came for the groundbreaking ceremony.

“Good things often take patience and perseverance and persistence and that is exactly what happened here,” Patty Murray U.S. Senator said at the ceremony.

Stakeholders from all across the state have supported this project and it has created an incredible relationship between WSU and the USDA, which helps showcase the agricultural products Washington State grows such as wheat and apples, she said.

“Our farmers sell their produce to Canada, Mexico, China, Japan, South Korea and many other countries and because of WSU’s work, we aren’t just a leader in agricultural production,” Murray said. “We are a leader in AG (Agriculture) research as well. The projects that students and teachers take on here are really impressive. 

The new plant science building will provide a home for cutting-edge research and better collaboration, Wendy Powers, Cashup Davis Family Endowed dean of WSU College of Agricultural Human and Natural Resource Sciences, said. 

“Ensuring Washington State agriculture stays productive, healthy and sustainable. The work that will soon happen in this building benefits our states important crops and commodities,” Powers said. 

Currently, there is an effort to understand certain diseases that impact wheat production, Tom Vilsack, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, said. 

Diseases include rust diseases, which can cause crop damage, according to Bayer Crop Science.

“Imagine the spark the passion, the energy, the excitement that occurs when the solution is discovered. That’s what this facility is about, that moment of discovery,” Vilsack said. 

There is excitement from both McMorris Rodgers and Murray about this project being set on their own home territory.

“It’s going to ensure that the research done here is not only important for this region, but beyond for the United States and the world and it’s really exciting,” McMorris Rodgers said. 

While WSU has already had a reputation of being a leader in agriculture research, the collaboration between WSU and ARS is what makes this project unique, she said. 

“As a student who graduated from WSU, I know how important it is to have a research facility that really does all the creative things for the future self,” Murray said. “I know the students are capable of that. I know faculty that works with them are excited about it and what it means to me, that amazing research that I knew and loved decades ago when I was here will continue.” 

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About the Contributors
GABRIELLE BOWMAN, Evergreen news co-editor
Gabrielle is a sophomore multimedia journalism major from Bremerton, WA. Gabrielle has worked for the evergreen since Oct. 2022.
MATTHEW RAGSDALE, Evergreen photographer
Matthew Ragsdale is a photographer for the Daily Evergreen. They are a senior Biology major. Matthew started working for the Daily Evergreen in Summer of 2023.