The Wisconsin Agricultural Education Center will be located within Manitowoc County at exit 144 on Interstate 43. It will be on the west side of I-43 between I-43 and Gass Lake Road at the County Road C intersection.
The proposed admission costs to the center are: $10 for adults, $5 for youth ages 5-17, free for youth under 5. Admission price for school groups of youth ages 5-17 would be $4.
The Wisconsin Agriculture Education Center will be open year round, giving visitors a chance to view agriculture in the different seasons within Wisconsin.
The Grotegut Farm is located approximately 3 miles from the Wisconsin Agricultural Education Center, making it an easy distance to transport visitors. Visitors will travel between the two facilities using bus transportation. The bus trips will be a part of the fun and interactive experience.
The Wisconsin Agricultural Education Center will be managed by the directors and the Board of Directors. A team of employees and volunteers will carry out the day-to-day operations of the center.
The birthing barn is included as part of the Wisconsin Agricultural Education Center experience to give visitors a chance to see firsthand new life enter into the world. The Grotegut Farm has six to eight calves born daily and a portion of these will be born at the center. In the event there are no live births happening, there will be a realistic video playing to give visitors that real life experience. There will be a messaging alert system throughout the facility to let visitors know when there is about to be or currently is a live birth in progress.
The neighbors of the Wisconsin Agricultural Education Center will be impacted very minimally. There will be more traffic but most activities will be confined to the location of the Wisconsin Agricultural Education Center with buses transporting visitors to the Grotegut Farm. The Manitowoc Community will be impacted through increased tourism, with more people stopping to experience all that Manitowoc County has to offer.
Agriculture is a very important part of the State of Wisconsin and it begs the question as to why there is no agricultural education center located in Wisconsin. Today, most people are several generations removed from farming. With less than 2% of the population producing food for the other 98%, many Americans do not know where their food actually comes from, or how it is produced. Currently many people want to know more about the food they are consuming. While most have a vague understanding of the origin of their food, the enormous role of the agriculture industry in their lives is a mystery to many Americans.
With these facts in mind, the Wisconsin Agricultural Education Center has been a vision for over five years for this group of people involved in the agricultural industry. It has been through their countless hours of research and exploration, they have been able to bring this project to reality. They want to help answer the question of “where does my food come from?” which can more often than not be answered with “from America’s Family Farms!” The Wisconsin Agricultural Education Center hopes to overcome some of the misconceptions of agriculture which some people have today.
The exhibits will be determined by the WAEC Board of Directors who have done extensive research to find out what exhibits will be useful to educating the visitors on agriculture. The WAEC Board of Directors has worked closely with Fair Oaks Farms, a successful, comparable model in Indiana, to examine which exhibits have the greatest educational impact and attract steady visitation of the center. The WAEC Board of Directors has charged the Exhibit Development Sub-committee, staffed by the WAEC Director of Education and Programming, with development of exhibits and messaging. Exhibits will address six main themes:
Economic Development Partners, LLC completed an economic development study on this project. The Wisconsin Agricultural Education Center was evaluated on three criteria for the targeted location within Manitowoc County.
The criteria included:
The economic development study found that the design, development and construction of the center would be feasible and cost effective based on the revenue sources and funding resources that are available for the project. A large part of the cash flow would be from admissions, farm tours, events, café, and cheese sales at the facility. The targeted location was found to be profitable.
The Wisconsin Agricultural Education Center will be funded through a $5 million non-state agency grant. The remaining funds will be raised through philanthropic sources to help construct the center and develop the exhibits. A feasibility study regarding the ability to raise funds shows that the agricultural industry is interested in supporting the Wisconsin Agricultural Education Center as sponsors.
The overall cost to build the Wisconsin Agricultural Education Center will be $13 million dollars. This includes both the building the main center, the birthing barn, shuttles to the farm tour and exhibit development throughout the center.
Yes! Since Wisconsin is such a diverse agricultural state, why not have two agricultural education centers? Having two agricultural education centers, each one with a slightly different experience to offer, will help to educate the public even more about the importance of agriculture.
You can contribute to this project by giving a monetary donation to the Wisconsin Agricultural Education Center. If you would like to discuss your gift interests in person or over the phone, please contact:
Melissa Bender, Director of Education and Programming
Thank you for your generous consideration!
©2017 Wisconsin Agricultural Education Center