Mission and History


The West Central Research and Outreach Center (WCROC) provides research-based innovation and outreach by vigorously pursuing opportunities for agricultural producers and rural citizens while identifying and responding to emerging trends, developing dynamic solutions, and offering active learning experiences.


The WCROC possesses a rich and varied heritage. Our roots lie in a Native American high school founded in 1890. In 1910, the school became the West Central School of Agriculture. Students lived at the school for six months of the year while they were not helping out on their family's farm. In 1960, the agricultural high school split into two entities: the University of Minnesota, Morris, a four-year liberal arts college; and the West Central Experiment Station, a center for agricultural research. As "the Station" developed, animal husbandry, crop production and horticulture became the core research and education strengths.

This research and education focus remained until about 1990; when the Station realized both agriculture and rural Minnesota were changing. To be truly effective, we needed to expand beyond our traditional strengths. In response to our expanded mission, the site was renamed the West Central Research and Outreach Center in 1998 to more accurately describe our activities. The core of what we do today still lies in animal husbandry, crop production and horticulture. However, we have embraced environmental and social issues, realized the importance of economics in all our program areas, developed our horticultural research garden into a regional showplace, and much more.  Our strategic plan (.pdf), originally developed in 2013 and later updated in 2015 and 2017, serves as a guide as we embark on the next 100 years of service to Minnesota.

Agriculture in Minnesota is quite diverse. The WCROC responds to this diversity by addressing topics and issues related to the broad range of agricultural systems in the region. Other strengths of the WCROC are found in our unique resources. Our location, facilities and outstanding faculty allow us to be national leaders in evaluating the production and economic strengths and weaknesses of both conventional and alternative swine and dairy production systems. The WCROC also has highly regarded crop production and horticultural programs that focus on emerging needs and issues.

Our approach to issues and our location in rural Minnesota position us to partner with many constituencies. WCROC's faculty and staff work with farmers, rural leaders, faculty from other Research and Outreach Centers, other University of Minnesota departments and citizens to provide research and educational programming. Working with these many partners is our greatest strength. These partnerships keep us connected to the varied and changing needs of the producers and citizens of Minnesota.