Texas A&M-Commerce Breaks Ground on New Agricultural Multipurpose Center, Gamebird Research Center

Texas A&M University-Commerce conducted a groundbreaking ceremony on Monday, March 18 to begin construction of a new Agricultural Multipurpose Education & Training Center and a gamebird research center, both located on State Highway 24 south of Commerce.

The $45 million, approximately 190,000-square-foot agricultural facility will serve as a dynamic hub for agricultural research, teaching, economic development, international student exchange, and knowledge transfer initiatives in a wide range of fields, including sustainable agriculture, animal science, urban agriculture, equine studies and more.

The complex will feature food processing labs, field labs, and space for educational conferences, agricultural expos, and competitions.

The future Ted & Donna Lyon Center for Gamebird Research was also recognized at the ceremony. The gamebird center was kickstarted by a $1 million gift from the Lyon family in 2022, the largest all-cash gift with immediate impact in university history.

The Lyon Center, which will be located along Highway 24 approximately 1.5 miles south of the university campus, will include a state-of-the-art quail research and production facility, a wetland research station, large classrooms and meeting spaces, wetland and upland nature trails, and office space for gamebird faculty and students.

Opening the ceremony, A&M-Commerce President Mark Rudin recognized several special guest speakers, including Texas A&M University System Regent John Bellinger, A&M System Chancellor John Sharp, State Representative and A&M-Commerce alum Gary VanDeaver (District 1), and State Senator Bryan Hughes (District 1).

Also speaking at the event were:

  • State Representative Jill Dutton (District 2)
  • State Representative Cole Hefner (District 5)
  • Natalie Steinsholt, deputy district director for U.S. Congressman Keith Self (District 3)
  • Addie Weil, A&M-Commerce undergraduate student majoring in Animal Science, member of the A&M-Commerce Rodeo Team
  • Aujarai Ivy, A&M-Commerce graduate student majoring in Biological & Environmental Sciences, Lyon Scholar and Quail Research Assistant
Texas A&M University-Commerce President Mark Rudin (left) shakes hands with Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp at the groundbreaking event for the Agricultural Multipurpose Center and the Ted & Donna Lyon Center for Gamebird Research | Photo: Matt Strasen, A&M-Commerce Marketing and Communications

Regent Bellinger expressed excitement for the potential educational opportunities brought about by these new facilities.

“I can't thank the Texas Legislature and the Lyon family enough for believing in agriculture,” Bellinger said. “These facilities will house our future agriculture leaders.”

Chancellor Sharp emphasized the importance of providing state-of-the-art agricultural education in an ever-changing world.

“As long as you want to eat, agriculture is going to be important,” Sharp said. “This agriculture complex that is being built here will be one of the best in the United States. Thank you to the members of the legislature and the Board of Regents who helped to bring cutting-edge agriculture back to Texas.”

He also touted the future Lyon Center for Gamebird Research as a boon for not only Texas quail populations but also the state's economy.

“Quail hunting is an $8 billion enterprise for the state of Texas, and we've had about an 80-percent decline in the state's quail population since the 1960s,” Sharp said. “If quail come back in the state of Texas, it's going to be because of this complex being built here at A&M-Commerce.”

Representative VanDeaver said he believes that this event marked a major milestone for the future of agriculture in North and East Texas.

“This represents the beginning of a new opportunity for hands-on learning in agriculture,” VanDeaver said. “In these facilities, tomorrow's agricultural leaders will gain the knowledge and skills necessary to impact the future of agriculture.”

Senator Hughes said that the new facilities will broaden the university's impact on the agriculture and economy of Texas.

“This university is a special place,” Hughes said. “Its impact regionally and statewide is hard to measure and is growing a whole lot more with what is happening today.”

View the photo gallery from the groundbreaking ceremony.

Top image: A photo from the groundbreaking ceremony for the Agricultural Multipurpose Education and Training Center and the Ted and Donna Lyon Center for Gamebird Research. Pictured from left, Dr. Randy Harp, State Representative Gary VanDeaver, State Representative Jill Dutton, A&M System Regent John Bellinger, A&M System Chancellor John Sharp, former State Senator Ted Lyon, A&M-Commerce President Mark Rudin, State Representative Cole Hefner and State Senator Bryan Hughes.