SFA's Ina Brundrett Conservation Education Building officially opened
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The Stephen F. Austin State University Board of Regents joined members of the administration, faculty, staff, student body and Nacogdoches community at a ribbon-cutting ceremony Monday, marking the official opening of the newly constructed Ina Brundrett Conservation Education Building.

The new facility, located in SFA's Pineywoods Native Plant Center on Raguet Street, will assist with the development and presentation of environmental education programs year-round, rain or shine. Funded entirely through private donations, the building is designed to integrate educational and outreach programs offered to the more than 17,000 SFA Gardens visitors each year.

According to Dr. Steve Bullard, dean of the Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture, SFA is working to increase understanding of how food, fiber and other goods are produced within our society.

"The new building will allow us to reach individuals with a true conservation message, emphasizing the need to sustain both the ecology and the economy of our community," Bullard said.

The facility is named in honor of Tyler philanthropist Ina Brundrett, who serves on both the SFA Gardens and Native Plant Center boards of advisers. A member of three garden clubs, Brundrett is a former president of the Texas Garden Clubs and a Certified Master Gardener. The backyard of her Tyler residence has been declared a wildlife habitat by Texas Parks and Wildlife and the National Wildlife Federation.

"This new building will help us connect more visitors to the natural world, even in undesirable weather," said Dr. David Creech, professor emeritus of agriculture and associate director of the SFA Gardens. "We are also very excited that the facility has an energy-efficient design that will meld into the existing forest and create a perfect setting for a conservation education center."

The building includes flexible laboratory and classroom space, along with office and storage areas and much-needed restrooms. A solar array to be installed on the building's roof is expected to offset 60 to 80 percent of the building's energy usage.

The solar array was acquired through a $30,000 donation from the Sun Club, a program of Green Mountain Energy, which is the country's longest-serving renewable energy retailer. The array and its energy-use monitoring system also will serve to educate students and visitors about solar energy.

"Faculty and staff members within the college are excited about the endless possibilities, and everyone looks forward to having classes, meetings and outreach activities in the new building," Bullard said.

He added that the facility will allow SFA to conduct activities in a true natural setting, which will contribute to the economic, environmental and social quality of life in the community.

"The facility and Native Plant Center together will maximize the effectiveness and impact of these programs," Bullard said.

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