Note to Editors: Media are welcome to attend scheduled events throughout the visit. To make arrangements for attendance, contact Brad Bohlander or Dell Rae Moellenberg at the information above.
Colorado State University President Larry Edward Penley and university officials will be visiting with the public, farmers, alumni and university employees in Alamosa, Durango, Monte Vista and Center as part of a community outreach tour May 23 and 24.
During the president’s two-day visit, Penley plans to discuss economic development opportunities in the area with business and community leaders, as well as review university research and outreach programs. In addition, Penley and university officials will be on hand for two building dedications – a new potato research facility near Center and a new six-county focused Cooperative Extension office building in Monte Vista. Penley and other university leaders also will speak at events hosted by the university alumni association in Durango and Alamosa.
Penley will be accompanied by Vice Provost for Agriculture and Outreach Marc Johnson; Lee Sommers, director of the Agricultural Experiment Station, and Frank Pierz, special assistant to the president for outreach, legislative issues and agriculture.
"Colorado State attracts many top students from southwestern Colorado, and we have a strong, well-established research and outreach presence here," said Penley. "We look forward to visiting with our friends in the region, and hearing from members of the community about ways the university can further contribute to their economy and quality of life."
Penley will begin his visit on May 23 with an early morning tour of the San Juan Basin Agricultural Research Center at Hesperus, where the university conducts research to address such important local issues as livestock management, weed sciences and chronic wasting disease. While on the tour, Penley will visit with local officials including Sen. Jim Isgar, Rep. Mark Larson, local university employees including faculty and staff from the experiment station, Cooperative Extension and the Colorado State Forest Service, as well as research partners and advisory board members including officials from Fort Lewis College.
Following the tour of the research center, Penley will have lunch with area legislators, county commissioners and business community leaders to explore economic development in the area and discuss the university’s role in the community.
Penley will then meet with university staff from Cooperative Extension, Agricultural Experiment Station and the Colorado State Forest Service before gathering with additional community leaders including Cooperative Extension advisory board members.
The public can meet Penley, Johnson, Pierz and other university officials at a reception hosted by the Colorado State University Alumni Association from 5:30 to 7 p.m. 23 in the Mesa Verde Room of the Doubletree Hotel, 501 Camino Del Rio. The event is free and open to the public.
On Tuesday May 24, university officials including Penley and Johnson will speak at the dedication of a new potato research laboratory in Center at the San Luis Valley Research Center. The public is invited to attend the celebration, slated for 10 a.m. The new laboratory will provide experts with the ability to conduct post-harvest and potato storage research, further benefiting the area’s important potato industry by helping local farmers keep potatoes in ideal conditions before they reach the consumers’ tables. State funding for the building was cut five years ago, but the facility was completed recently with strong support of local growers. The San Luis Valley produces 90 percent of the state’s potato crop each year, making the crop a significant anchor for the local community. The potato industry contributes $141 million in Colorado agricultural revenue each year, and the state is the third largest national grower in summer potatoes and the fifth largest producer of summer and fall potatoes combined.
Following the dedication, Penley will discuss economic development opportunities with county commissioners, legislator and business leaders in Monte Vista. He and other university officials will then meet with regional Cooperative Extension, Agricultural Experiment Station and Colorado State Forest Service employees, the three outreach branches of Colorado State.
University officials will then speak at the dedication of a Cooperative Extension building, built from donations and support from local counties, which will house employees who serve six counties in the area. The new facility, the Eric L. Knapp Memorial Education Building, is dedicated to the memory of a local 4-H member who died in a car accident last year at the age of 15. The building, at 1899 East Highway 160 in Monte Vista, will be dedicated at 3:30 p.m. and an open house will begin at 6:30 p.m.
The 3,000 square foot building was constructed without funding from the state or federal government because funding from these sources was unavailable due to budget cuts. Approximately one third of the money was donated by local county governments, another third was donated by local businesses, and the remaining funds were given by more than 100 families and individuals in the area.
Following the building dedication, university officials will visit with the public in Alamosa from 5:30 – 7 p.m. at the Clarion Hotel of the Rio Grande, 333 Santa Fe Avenue, at a reception hosted by the university’s alumni association. The event is free and open to the public.
To the media: The following is background about university officials’ visit to southwestern Colorado. Media are welcome to attend scheduled events throughout the visit. A complete itinerary is outlined in the accompanying press release. To make arrangements for attendance, contact Brad Bohlander at the information above.
MEDIA BACKGROUND FOR COLORADO STATE OFFICIAL VISIT TO SOUTHWESTERN COLORADO MAY 23 – 24
Penley, university officials, Isgar and Larson explore university research
University and regional officials including Colorado State President Larry Edward Penley, Vice Provost of Agriculture and Outreach Marc Johnson, will tour the San Juan Agricultural Research Center on from 7-10 a.m., and then be joined by Sen. Jim Isgar and Rep. Mark Larson until 11:45 a.m. on Monday, May 23. The group will discuss the university’s role in research and economic development. The group will see research projects such as a chronic wasting disease study to investigate genetic resistance in elk, as well as examples of community partnerships such as a the use of the center as the base for an two U.S. Forest Service fire-fighting crews, including a new 8-person Mesa Verde Helitack crew and the 20-member San Juan Basin hot shot crew. Additional research projects taking place at the facility that the group will focus on include an economic study comparing the performance of calves born in early spring versus late spring and weed control strategies.
Potato research facility built out of relationship, cooperation with local farmers
Colorado State University will celebrate a new laboratory facility to advance the university’s research in maintaining the quality of potatoes after harvest with the dedication of the new space at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, May 24 at the San Luis Valley Agricultural Research Center. Because potatoes are still alive after they are harvested and while they are stored before reaching markets, they are prone to diseases if storage conditions are not at an appropriate humidity, temperature and air exchange level. Different varieties of potatoes maintain optimal quality at different storage settings. The San Luis Valley produces 90 percent of the state’s potato crop each year, making the crop a significant anchor for the local community. The potato industry contributes $141 million in Colorado agricultural revenue each year, and the state is the third largest national grower in summer potatoes and the fifth largest producer of summer and fall potatoes combined. A large part of funding for the building was made available through the Colorado Potato Administrative Committee. The center’s potato breeding program, which provides research to develop new varieties, is among the largest in the nation. In addition, the staff works with local farmers to identify and manage diseases and researches the best farming practices to optimize production and quality. The San Luis Valley center also oversees a large seed potato certification program, which regulates the quality of potatoes grown by local farmers to sell as seed potatoes.
Cooperative Extension memorial building reflects community support
A new Cooperative Extension building at 01899 East Highway 160 in Monte Vista will house local faculty who serve six counties. The building was built through the generosity and support of local residents and businesses. The building, which also provides office space for the fair manager, was built solely from local funds, without the availability of state or federal funding. More than 100 families from the six-county region donated to the building fund, along with local businesses and county governments. In addition, many of the contractors involved in building the facility donated their time or supplies. The new facility will be named the Eric L. Knapp Memorial Education Building in memory of a 15-year-old local 4-H’er who died in a car accident last fall.
The local Cooperative Extension office provides educational opportunities for youth and adults through various programs. For example, youth engage in community service projects through 4-H, which include projects such as a special visitation to local senior centers with their 4-H animals, cleaning up parks, painting and upgrading community facilities. In June, a local 4-H camp about conservation will teach 8 to 13-year-olds about soil and water, range management, forestry, wildlife and hunters safety. The three-day camp, which is in its 26th year, is attended by about 70 youth annually. The office also provides weekly nutrition educational programs at the local farmer’s market, which will open in July and provide local produce to the community. In addition, Cooperative Extension provides Spanish-speaking resources for local residents about health and nutrition, as well as supports research in local crops including potatoes, alfalfa, wheat, barley and canola.