With the Jan. 21 dedication of the J. Phil Campbell Sr. Research and Education Center in Watkinsville, UGA is carrying on a legacy of agricultural and environmental research and outreach.
“The acquisition of the Campbell property from the U.S. Department of Agriculture will allow the University of Georgia to continue the important research that has been conducted here for decades,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead.
Having served as a USDA Agricultural Research Service research station for 76 years, the 1,055-acre farm and laboratory complex was transferred to the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences in fall 2013 to expand the college’s education, research and outreach programs. The agricultural research that UGA faculty will conduct at the center is key to feeding the world’s growing population and keeping the U.S. food supply safe and secure.
“This project will allow for vital agriculture research to continue here in Georgia while saving federal tax dollars,” said Rep. Jack Kingston, who helped to dedicate the center. “Agriculture accounts for one out of seven jobs in our state and $76.9 billion annually for Georgia’s economy. It is a natural fit for UGA to continue leading in agriculture research to protect our safe, abundant and affordable food supply.”
The center was founded as the Southern Piedmont Research Conservation Center in 1937 at the urging of J. Phil Campbell Sr., a Georgia native and then-assistant chief of the Soil Conservation Service. Campbell played a vital role in establishing the Cooperative Extension Service in Georgia before taking his role with the USDA in President Franklin Roosevelt’s administration. The center was renamed for Campbell in 1997.
“Today’s dedication of the J. Phil Campbell Sr. Research and Education Center serves to remind us of Mr. Campbell’s outstanding contributions to education and agricultural research,” said Krysta Harden, deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “The center has a longstanding legacy of research in herd management, soil protection and conservation that has greatly benefited not just Georgia but our entire nation. I am pleased that this partnership is continuing and that the agriculture community will benefit from the work done here.”
UGA gained management of the facility-formerly the J. Phil Campbell Sr. Natural Resource Conservation Center-as the USDA was moving to close similar sites around the nation. Congress approved a provision specifying 10 land-grant universities could take ownership of such facilities, provided they agree to use the property for agricultural research for a minimum of 25 years. UGA is the first land-grant university to complete the transfer process and take over management of a former USDA facility.
The center’s fields, pastures and labs will allow UGA faculty to continue research into sustainable agriculture and natural resources conservation. It currently houses about 20 ongoing UGA research projects on sustainable grazing systems, nutrient cycling, water quality, organic production and forage variety trials. In addition to being a hub for sustainable agricultural research, the Campbell Center also will serve as a model for how academic institutions can conduct cutting edge research while engaging and serving their surrounding communities, said J. Scott Angle, dean of the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.
While the center always has played an important role for Northeast Georgia farmers, its new role as both an education and outreach center will expand the center’s reach in the community, according to Melvin Davis, chairman of the Oconee County Commission.