Pirate News: Research station cultivates agri-science enthusiasm.

July 27, 2021

Mark Platt and student Asher Zost.

Pirate News: Research station cultivates agri-science enthusiasm.

Pirate News is a presentation of Hart Public Schools in partnership with Oceana County Press. 

By Mark Platt, Hart Public Schools Superintendent.

WEARE TOWNSHIP — Our region has a rich history – and an incredibly bright future – in agri-science. 

Whether it involves planting, protecting, harvesting, transporting, processing, packaging, or marketing, the tremendous work ethic and business savvy of our fruit and vegetable growers and their operational partners have elevated our region as one of our state’s top leaders in agri-science.

And one of the things necessary to keep our local growers and our entire economic supply chain strong is cutting-edge research; research designed to help our growers and operational partners increase their productivity and yields and also help them decrease chemical use and other potentially harmful environmental impacts. 

Pentwater science teacher Erika Futura and students.

We are fortunate in our area to now have the West Michigan Research Station near Hart fully up and running. 

It was about two years ago the seed for this fantastic 40-acre agriscience research center was planted and then steadily grew over the last 18-20 months thanks to the generous contributions of expertise and resources from Peterson Farms and a host of other local donors. 

The WMRS now stands as one of five MSU partnered agricultural research stations in Michigan where college undergraduate and graduate students can conduct their research. 

Our research station is also the only facility of the five entirely financed and built by a collaborative of local growers and operational partners. This is quite a tribute to their commitment.

Along with supporting and strengthening our local agri-science industry, one of the stated purposes of the West Michigan Research Station is to also help younger students in our region learn more about agri-science and discover the many career opportunities in this field. 

It was with this goal in mind that the West Shore ESD was invited to partner with the research station in providing educational programs in agri-science once the construction was finished.

The first West Shore ESD sponsored program took place at the research station during the week of July 19. A free four-morning summer camp called Agri-Science Everywhere was offered for fifth through eighth graders from all around our area.

I was able to stop by the research station and see the “Agri-Science Everywhere” summer camp in full bloom for myself. It was impressive!

By coordinating a wide range of hands-on lessons as well as interesting demonstrations by invited guests, Pentwater science teacher Erika Fatura provided an action-packed curriculum in agri-science which highlighted biotechnology, food production, teamwork, ecology, water, and soil conservation, apple breeding, fruit processing, and much more.

I enjoyed visiting with sixth grader Asher Zost and checking out his new mushroom growing kit.

I hope you’ll take the time to visit the West Michigan Research Station as soon as you can. You’ll be hearing more about it, I’m sure of that.

You’ll also appreciate the long list of local donors at the entrance and the many historical photos in the large meeting/instructional space.

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