BALLSTON SPA — Cornell Cooperative Extension of Saratoga County has announced the groundbreaking of a new educational center at the 4-H Training Center.
The 3,650-square foot facility will be a Community STEM and Agricultural Educational Center, according to a press release. Greg Stevens, a program leader at the 4-H Program of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Saratoga County, said it will contain three additional classrooms and ADA-compliant bathrooms.
“Our hope for this facility is that we’re providing not only three additional classrooms for our 4-H programs, but in addition, we’re providing meeting space for the community, for Saratoga County residents, for other youth service organizations, adult service organizations,” said Stevens. “We’re really trying to make our 4-H Training Center a hub of activity in Saratoga County.”
One classroom will be used primarily as a 4-H STEM classroom, while the other two classrooms will be adjoining with a dividing wall, according to information on the CCE Saratoga website. The ADA-accessible restrooms will also contain showers.
Stevens said the project initially began roughly eight years ago, but was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Eight years ago, the 4-H Program Committee that I had at that time was tasked with identifying what we need out at our 44-acre facility,” Stevens said. “At that time, we were basically maxed out of the space to provide any other programming that we do, whether it be agriculture, STEM, 4-H shooting sports.”
After reviewing multiple options, Stevens said the group ultimately decided to construct a new building on the property.
“In the end, we landed on, ‘Let’s build new,’” said Stevens. “Let’s provide not only meeting space, but restrooms that are not only accessible to the new building, but are also accessible to folks that may want to use our pavilions, maybe using the pond to fish, or even the green space for any types of community events.”
He said many of the 4-H programs have seen strong involvement since the end of the pandemic.
“Ideally, we’re looking to make this a state-of-the-art classroom,” Stevens said. “We have a very large robotics program, and we’re looking for more space for them to meet. All of our programming since COVID has really rebounded, and the time is now.”
Saratoga County 4-H has the largest 4-H robotics program in New York State, according to the CCE Saratoga website.
The pandemic delayed fundraising for the project, and 4-H is currently seeking donations for the ‘Lead the Legacy’ campaign to help reach their target goal of $500,000. Currently, they have raised nearly $400,000, according to the release.
Financial support has been provided by Stewart’s Shops and the Dake Family Foundation, Curtis Lumber, the Golub Foundation, and The Alfred Z. Solomon Charitable Trust among others, the release states.
The 4-H group is looking for assistance in reaching their total goal of $500,000. For more information, visit https://ccesaratoga.org/4-h-youth-development/lead-the-legacy.
“We’ve raised about three-quarters of what we need to make it as we envision,” said Stevens. “We have enough to build the shell of the building, but we’re really still in need of some folks to help find not only our mission important, but the training center facility itself as a desirable location, and help support us getting over the top.”
Construction on the building initially began in mid-April. Stevens said that while contractors have not given a timeline, he hopes the facility can be opened by the fall.
“It’s been going really fast, and really well,” Stevens said. “All these people that are doing the work for us out there have really stepped up in the name of 4-H. … We’re excited about the future of our program, and the future of the 4-H Training Center.”