New agriculture complex coming to Merced College

MERCED, Calif. (KFSN) -- Work will soon be underway on a 20,000 square foot facility that will bring new opportunities to Merced College students interested in Agriculture.

"This is really a reflection of this community and our region," says Merced College President Chris Vitelli. "Agriculture is so important."

The $21 million project was made possible by a 2002 local bond measure, state funding and a $5 million donation from local pistachio and almond farmer Raj Kahlon.

The prominent local grower is paying it forward to Merced College students who want to see success in agriculture too.

"So why don't we do something big where all community kids can come and learn about agriculture, and they can become a big help in the agriculture workforce," he said.

Kahlor hopes the expansion will help fill the void for industry-wide jobs across the Valley. The building will bear his name.

"Agriculture is not like it used to be," he said. "It's all technology now, so I think we can get a lot of help from the kids."

Inside is state-of-the-art learning tech.

"The project will include new labs, classrooms and upgrades," Vitelli said. "It will have programs such as our HVAC program, industrial maintenance and animal science."

Student Body President Johanna Himba is studying agriculture and says students will get access to resources like never before.

"We have the opportunity to actually bring the animal into the classroom with this new building, which will be a huge beneficial aid to us," she said.

The complex is set to be completed in time for the Fall 2022 semester

Construction will get started in the next couple of weeks.

Work is expected to take a little over a year and be completed by the end of next summer.
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