Agricultural Research and Extension Center marks centennial with renaming dedication
By Tracy Courage
U of A System Division of Agriculture
- Arkansas Agricultural Research and Extension Center celebrates 100 years of discovery
- Center rededicated as the Milo J. Shult Agricultural Research and Extension Center
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FAYETTEVILLE — For 100 years, the Arkansas Agricultural Research and Extension Center has helped farmers meet the ever-evolving challenges of agriculture. The center’s centennial was celebrated Friday, Oct. 11, by renaming it in honor of the late Milo J. Shult, a longtime vice president for agriculture for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. During his time in Arkansas, Shult firmly established the division as a leading voice for Arkansas agriculture.
“Milo Shult was a remarkable man with an incredible vision for research and extension,” said Donald R. Bobbitt, president of the University of Arkansas System. “He led the effort to develop and improve the division’s infrastructure throughout the state. The Research and Extension Center here in Fayetteville underwent a major transformation during Milo’s tenure. Renaming this center the Milo J. Shult Agricultural Research and Extension Center is a fitting tribute to Milo’s exemplary and impactful career.”
Gov. Asa Hutchinson also cited Shult’s legacy in a written statement prepared for the dedication.
“Under his leadership, the division became established as the premier agricultural science location in Arkansas,” Hutchinson said. “During this time, the value of Arkansas agricultural products also doubled, which is a testament to the incredible impact Dr. Shult’s administration had on the state’s economy.”
Shult began his career at Texas A&M University as a wildlife specialist in Uvalde, Texas, and later served as associate director of the Texas A&M University Agricultural Extension Service in College Station. In 1992, he moved to Arkansas where he served more than 18 years as the vice president for agriculture for the University of Arkansas System, the longest term ever served in that role. He retired in 2011 and died in July this year at age 75.
“Dad did know that this was going to happen,” Shult’s son, M.J. Shult, said of the renaming and dedication. “I could hear the excitement in his voice, and I know he was honored to have his work over those many years recognized.”
Shult remained devoted to the land grant system throughout his career. In Arkansas, he coined the motto “Arkansas is our campus” to emphasize the division’s dedication to improving the state’s agriculture and quality of life and the presence of research and extension facilities in all 75 counties. The phrase is still used across the organization, which he helped grow. During his tenure, Shult guided the construction of 18 new facilities and renovation of seven others within the Division of Agriculture.
“He touched so many lives and so many programs,” said Mark Cochran, vice president for agriculture for the University of Arkansas System. “He knew we couldn’t attract world-class faculty without world-class facilities.”
Shult served on many state, regional and national committees. Among these, he served as chair of the USDA National Agricultural Research, Extension, Education and Economics Advisory Board, through which he advised the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Congress, and land-grant colleges and universities on top national priorities and policies for food and agricultural research, education, extension and economics. He was inducted into the Arkansas Agriculture Hall of Fame in 2011.
The Milo J. Shult Agricultural Research and Extension Center is one of four research and extension centers located around the state that are operated by the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. It is the main research complex for the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station, the division’s research arm.
The center also provides educational and research facilities and resources for the University of Arkansas’ Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences. The Washington County Extension Office and the Arkansas Archeological Survey are both located at the center.
“For a century, this place has been known as a center for innovation in agriculture and food research,” said Jean-François Meullenet, senior associate vice president for agriculture-research and director of the experiment station. “From its very beginnings in 1888, the mission of the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station has been to conduct research and achieve scientific discoveries that benefit Arkansas farmers.”
The center got its start in 1919 when 423 acres were purchased for agricultural research and education. The same land has continuously served the needs of agriculture in Arkansas and now includes 725 acres, centrally located near the University of Arkansas.
Meullenet said the center is needed now more than ever.
“As you know we are facing unprecedented challenges in agriculture to feed a rapidly expanding world population,” he said. “We have to do this in the next 20 to 30 years with ever-increasing production costs, a changing climate and with decreasing natural resources such as land and water. To meet these challenges, innovation in agriculture needs to be more intense than ever before in our history.”
Among the center’s milestones:
1921 - Work began at the farm with a series of soil fertility experiments that led to three decades of research on crop rotations and fertilizer applications adjusted for soil type. Advanced studies in these areas continue to today.
1928 - ARKsoy was released as the first soybean variety adapted to Arkansas growing conditions.
1951 - The Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station hosted the “Chicken of Tomorrow” contest that brought breeders, scientists and entrepreneurs together to meet the public demand for economical, wholesome poultry products.
1961 - The cattle breeding program at the farm expanded to host regional beef cattle breeding studies.
1968 - The department of food science was created, and its pioneering work in specialty crops post-harvest physiology and work on vegetable canning was nationally recognized.
1992 - The John K. Skeeles Poultry Health Laboratory was built and led to major developments in vaccines and probiotics for the poultry industry.
2017 - The center became the headquarters of the Agricultural Experiment Station with the completion of the Don Tyson Center for Agricultural Sciences.
To learn more about Division of Agriculture research, visit the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station website: https://aaes.uark.edu. Follow us on Twitter at @ArkAgResearch and Instagram at ArkAgResearch.
About the Division of Agriculture
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work within the nation’s historic land grant education system.
The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs to all eligible persons without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
Media Contact: Tracy Courage
Dir. of Extension Communication Services
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service