New student learning center gives Iowa State competitive edge


Jen Hao Wong/Iowa State Daily

The facility will be used for things such as training for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and competitions. Hansen is a keystone in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ efforts to train students for a diverse set of opportunities in animal husbandry, agriculture and related fields.

Mackensie Moore

The newest addition to Iowa State’s campus, the Hansen Agriculture Student Learning Center, isn’t just a dirt arena for rodeos and cattle auctions. It is capable of much more.

In May 2013, construction began on the Hansen facility. Built using donations made to the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the project cost more than $7 million.

Inclement weather at the beginning of the process delayed construction, pushing the initial opening date from October to January. While people were able to view the pavilion in December, some improvements were still being made.

“It was really wet at the beginning of construction, which pushed deadlines back, but everyone worked hard and it all came together really well,” said Lynn Burnett, facilities planning and management construction manager for the Hansen Agriculture Student Learning Center.

At the start of the 2014 spring semester, the building opened to the public. The learning facility has multiple restrooms, a serving kitchen for events, an indoor arena capable of seating more than 800 people, two large classrooms with partitions to create four classrooms and more.

“The space is multipurpose,” said Marshall Ruble, agriculture research station superintendent. “There are endless possibilities to what can take place here.”

While the Hansen Agriculture Student Learning Center already has events booked for rodeos, dog shows and cattle auctions, the space is versatile and capable of much more. 

The 250-by-110 foot arena can also be heated. It is surrounded by a 5-foot tall fence and has three overhead doors that measure 30 feet by 30 feet.

“[For events], we are primarily driven toward students and their activities, not just in agriculture but university-wide,” Ruble said.

During Veishea, colleges will use the arena for building their floats, and the pavilion may also hold an event for the Iowa Games. 

On Jan. 25, Ruble used the arena for the ISU Tradition of Excellence Cattle Sale, an event put on by students in a merchandising class he teaches.

The event used all that the center has to offer. A chili lunch was served from the kitchen, chairs and tables were set up in the main lobby, and the lobby’s three flat-screen televisions were also used to display the cattle. The auction was even streamed live for prospective buyers by using the facility’s many Wi-Fi receivers.

“I’m glad [Iowa State was] able to use the center first so that we could understand how everything worked for assisting in future events,” Ruble said. “All together, it was a very positive experience.”

The arena also has the option to put a plastic flooring over the dirt to create a large, flat space, which will be used for many upcoming banquets and events.

The facility has also become a great recruitment tool for Iowa State. 

“We are now the envy of College of [Agriculture] schools in the country,” Ruble said. “We’ve got the best pavilion now, so we can offer so many more things.”

The Hansen Agriculture Student Learning Center is open between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. Anyone can tour the facility, and those interested in event employment can speak with Ruble.