YADKINVILLE — A longtime dream for many in Yadkin County came true last week when Surry Community College opened the doors of its new Agriculture and Education building at the Yadkin Center.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held to mark the occasion with several dignitaries from around the state in attendance.
Among these were 5th District U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx; Bob Etheridge, a former U.S. representative and current state director of the USDA Farm Service Agency; Dr. Tom Melton, deputy director of N.C. Cooperative Extension Service; and Steve Troxler, state commissioner of agriculture.
Not only did the occasion mark the opening of new office space and classrooms for the SCC Yadkin campus, it served as a groundbreaking for another new building, an industrial training center, 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 Dr. David Shockley, SCC president. “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 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.
Yadkin County School Board members were in attendance at the ribbon cutting.
“This is going to be a wonderful addition for our Early College students, ” Dr. Todd Martin, superintendent 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.”
Foxx told the group, “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.
“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. … 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.”
Troxler also shared his thoughts on the growth of the state agriculture industry.
Etheridge, Melton 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 that 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 groundbreaking for the new industrial training center were Tim Dockery, SCC board of trustees and co-chair for the SCC Foundation Capital Campaign and Tom Caudle, president of Unifi and co-chair of the SCC Foundation Capital Campaign.
In closing, Shockley said that 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.”
Kitsey Burns Harrison may be reached at the Yadkin Ripple at 336-679-2341 or on Twitter @RippleReporterK.