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The 2015-16 academic year at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College (NEO) marks its 97th anniversary. To honor the milestone, NEO will host the seventh annual Founders’ Day Celebration at Synar Farm by breaking ground on the new Animal Science Teaching Facility. The event is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. on Friday, March 25 and NEO will also announce the winner of the seventh annual James Mabon Award as part of the program. “The events surrounding the founding of NEO A&M College are some of the most enjoyable and memorable activities of the year,” said Dr. Jeff Hale, NEO president. “Founders’ Day affords us the opportunity to celebrate our rich history and recognize important figures from our past and present. I encourage everyone to attend this year’s celebration as we pay tribute to the NEO Department of Agriculture.”

The Animal Science Teaching Facility will be located on the Synar Farm grounds, which were purchased as a 200-acre plot in 1945. Originally Sunny Slope Farm, Harry Synar worked at the NEO farm from 1947-1981 and is credited with launching NEO’s agriculture program. As part of the farm renovation project, the land was renamed in his honor in 2006. In 2014, NEO officials launched a fundraising campaign focused on improving the facilities at Synar Farm. Over the past few years, students and staff have worked with OSU Long-Range Facility Planning and general contractors to improve facilities.

The addition of the Animal Science Teaching Facility will allow students the opportunity to have greater hands-on classroom experience. Funded through a combination of corporate sponsors and a student-backed fee increase, the new facility is being built without using state-allocated funds. Featuring both an enclosed, climate-controlled wing and an outdoor wing, the Animal Science Teaching Facility will play a major role in many agriculture classes relating to the three livestock species on campus: cattle, hogs, and sheep. “We currently don’t have an enclosed facility for classroom animal observation or hands-on skills, such as vaccination,” said McKenzie Nygren, Agriculture Department interim chair. “Through our fundraising efforts and corporate sponsorships, our students will have a modern facility that will serve in classes such as Animal Science, Beef Production, Animal Health, Reproduction, and many more.”

During the event, Dr. Hale will deliver the keynote address and representatives from corporate sponsors Arvest Bank, First National Bank, Tulsa Teachers Credit Union, and Welch State Bank will accompany him in the groundbreaking. In addition, the winning entry for the James Mabon Award, an annual campus improvement contest, will be announced. The contest allows students, staff, and faculty to propose campus improvement projects that are then presented to a judging committee. The winning submission receives up to $2,000 to implement their project. For more information about the Founders’ Day Celebration, please contact Cindy Bigby at cbigby@neo.edu or 918-540-6201. (Photo: Rendering of the Animal Science Teaching Facility)

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