A long-time dream for many in the county came true on Wednesday when the new Agriculture and Education building opened its doors at the Surry Community College Yadkin Center in Yadkinville. A ribbon cutting ceremony was held to mark the occasion and dignitaries from around the state were in attendance. Not only did the occasion mark the opening of new office space and classrooms for the SCC Yadkin campus, but it also served as a ground breaking for another new building which is slated to open in early 2017.
“This day is a day that I have been waiting for since I first arrived at Surry Community College four years ago,” said SCC President Dr. David Shockley. “When I came I realized that there was so much potential in Yadkin County. How many days do you get to dedicate a new building and break ground for another one?”
Yadkin County Chairman Kevin Austin welcomed around 150 guests and area officials to the ribbon cutting.
“Today is a special day for Yadkin County and for the cooperative we have with Surry Community College,” Austin said. “What you see before you and what you’ll see when you get inside is the dream of a lot of people. We had some serious needs in Yadkin County to upgrade our farm services. Agriculture is the largest industry in our county. We felt after years and years of promises it was time to deliver on that promise and create new space for the ag services in Yadkin County.”
The top floor of the new building is comprised of office space for North Carolina Cooperative Extension, USDA Farm Services, Soil and Water Conservation and the Forestry Service. Also on the top level is a banquet hall with seating for up to 300 guests. The lower level will be additional classroom space and laboratory space for the SCC Yadkin Center and Yadkin Early College High School.
Yadkin County Schools board members were in attendance at the ribbon cutting, as well as Yadkin County Schools Superintendent Dr. Todd Martin.
“This is going to be a wonderful addition for our early college students,” Martin said. “Our kids here in Yadkin County are going to have a top flight facility in which to learn and further their education. Plus we’re going to be able to expand degree programs here through Surry Community College. It’s just going to be a benefit all around.”
A panel of speakers addressed attendees at the celebration including Ricky Adkins of New Atlantic Contracting and Tom Hughes of Thomas H. Hughes Architecture, who were part of the design and construction process.
Congresswoman Virginia Foxx also spoke briefly at the ceremony.
“North Carolina has a rich tradition of farming and education. This new office space is going to help our area farmers a great deal to have the tools they need to continue providing the wonderful commodities they provide,” Foxx said. “Many of you know I’m a teacher at heart, and I’m so pleased to see the additional classroom space for the Yadkin Center of the community college and Yadkin Early College. I have been a strong promoter of early colleges and dual enrollment for a long long time. We need more in America of this type of innovative learning that equips students for college, career and life so I am delighted to be with you to celebrate today.”
NC Commissioner of Agriculture Steve Troxler also shared his thoughts on the growth of the NC agriculture industry.
Bob Etheridge, state executive director of the USDA Farm Service Agency; Dr. Tom Melton, deputy director of NC Cooperative Extension Service; and District Forester Mark Bost all gave their thoughts as well on the new building and how it will benefit their respective agencies. Two area organizations which helped contribute funds for the building, the NC Tobacco Trust Fund Commission and Yadkin County Farm Bureau, were represented by Brent Hunter and Justin Somers respectively.
Speaking on the ground breaking for the new industrial training center were Tim Dockery, SCC Board of Trustees member and co-chair for the SCC Foundation Capital Campaign, and Tom Caudle, president of Unifi and co-chair of the SCC Foundation Capital Campaign.
Dockery remarked that the Yadkin River is not a border that divides Yadkin and Surry counties, but rather what connects the two.
In closing, Shockley said he had been contemplating the parallels between agriculture and education. “The seeds that we plant in the ground grow crops and it feeds us, but we are also going to be feeding with seeds of education which help people grow as individuals and flourish and both of those things feed people for many many generations and both of those things are life changing for many many generations.”
Following the ceremony, guests enjoyed refreshments in the new banquet hall of the Yadkin County Agriculture and Education building.
Kitsey Burns Harrison may be reached at 336-679-2341 or on Twitter @RippleReporterK.