Washington State University faculty, Skagit Valley leaders, and local community members gathered to celebrate the grand opening of the Ruth Wylie Headhouse at the WSU Northwestern Washington Research and Extension Center (NWREC) in Mount Vernon, Wa.
Named for WSU alumna Ruth Wylie, who graduated from WSU in 1950 with a business degree, the new headhouse will serve as a workspace for post-doctoral students and research hub for improving soil regeneration and regional agriculture.
“This new headhouse will significantly enhance research capacity at NWREC in key areas like soil health and pest management,” said Rich Koenig, interim dean of the College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences. “I was honored to be at the dedication to thank Nancy Kercheval for her gift, and recognize her mother Ruth for her trailblazing service to Washington agriculture.”
Wylie’s daughter Nancy Kercheval (1979, B.S., Agricultural Economics) donated $150,000 towards the building of the new facility, which was matched by the Skagit County Board of Commissioners and funded another $150,000 toward the Center.
Ruth, 92, cut the red ribbon herself, after speeches from WSU’s Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center Director Chad Krueger, Associate Dean for Research at CAHNRS Scot Hulbert, Koenig, and both Wylie and Kercheval.
“It is a major endeavor to construct a new building at WSU, and we accomplished this during the past year and a half despite the COVID-19 pandemic slowing down work and supplies,” said Carol Miles, Director of WSU NWREC. “This new space is critical for us as we expand our research programs for current faculty and look forward to new programs in the next few years.”
Event attendees enjoyed a catered lunch and tour of the new space for scientists leading WSU’s statewide Soil Health Initiative.
“Agriculture in Northwestern Washington is very unique and important to the local communities for so many reasons,” said Hulbert. “It was heartwarming to see supporters like Nancy and Ruth make such a generous gift to help secure its future.”
Those interested in donating towards the continuation of the headhouse project can contact CAHNRS Alumni & Development.