Summer 2018
Gifts at Work

West Central Research and Outreach Center

Located in Morris, Minnesota, the West Central Research and Outreach Center (WCROC) is a University of Minnesota testing ground for innovations in dairy science, swine science, and horticulture. It is also home to environmental quality and renewable energy studies. WCROC’s crown jewel is its Horticulture Display Garden, voted the best public display garden in Minnesota by WCCO-TV viewers.

Photography by Steve Niedorf


Sophie Bishop, ’17 B.A., helped upgrade the energy systems in the dairy barn as an intern. The U of M Morris (UMM) environmental science graduate and UMM Alumni Association Scholarship recipient also studied the economics of those improvements.


University of Minnesota Morris student McKenzie Dice, ’19, helped harness renewable energy systems to power WCROC’s dairy. She’s grateful for the Charles and Ellora Alliss Educational Foundation Scholarship, the Nathaniel E. Williams Memorial Scholarship, and other support she’s received.


The Jacoby Meditation Garden features native flowers and grasses. It was created with a gift from Michael and Adelle Jacoby to honor the life of their son, Jason. It is one of 11 donor-funded gardens throughout the Horticulture Display Garden. The sculpture at right, donated by the Jacobys, resembles an eternal flame.


The Day Garden was planted in memory of David Day, who was killed in Iraq in 2005.


Senior horticulture scientist Steve Poppe conducts annual flower research, which is supported by generous contributions from plant breeding companies, horticulture industry associations, private donors, nurseries, garden centers, and greenhouses.


Nate Polzin, ’18 B.A., tended the gardens as an intern. The Make a Difference Scholarship recipient at the University of Minnesota Morris also helped test a variety of strawberries that bears fruit well into fall. “It’s good to find ways to make agriculture sustainable and ecologically friendly,” he says.


The Foley Meditation Garden, supported by the family of Richard W. and JoAnne Foley, celebrates the couple's love of Ireland, music, and nature.


Savanna Christensen, '17, worked as a dairy intern at WCROC while studying at the University of Minnesota Morris. Christensen was involved in projects that looked at ways to improve herd health. She says taking part in the Bridgford Summer Scholars program, funded by a gift from Betty Bridgford Orvis and Robert E. Orvis Sr., made her want to become a large animal veterinarian.