New Butler Tech classrooms being built on converted farm campus

New classroom construction at Butler Tech’s Natural Science Center has students excited about a $12.5 million upgrade of learning spaces at the county career school’s most unusual campus.

The 72-acre converted family farm, barn, horse and livestock structures in Monroe sees the daily rare mix of area high school students learning hands with animals as they explore their future veterinarian, equine and landscaping careers.

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And now the school’s animals are curiously watching along with the teens as a new, two-story 26,000-square-foot Natural Science Center learning facility is rising from construction dust.

The work, which Butler Tech officials said included the welcomed removal of old, cramped, portable classrooms, is scheduled to be completed by August 2022.

“This project has been in the planning stages for five years,” said Butler Tech Spokeswoman A.J. Huff. “Construction is underway, the modular units (portable classrooms) are gone, and the planned execution for this project is more than we could have hoped for.”

David Helms, principal of the Monroe campus, said “we are really excited … in terms of the opportunities this (expansion) is going to provide for students.”

“It will help to enhance and bring our campus together in one setting, where we didn’t have that opportunity before … in a central location. (Before) we didn’t have to space to come all together,” Helms said.

Brooklynn Huelseman, a junior from Hamilton studying equine science, said students are eager for the new classrooms.

“I’m excited. From pictures (illustrations of finished project) it shows classrooms with doors that allow animals to come inside. We’ll be able to have animals in the classroom,” said Huelseman.

The school also offers training in industrial equipment and natural resources through landscape design and construction courses. All programs, which use classrooms built into the farm’s large, original barn, have students spending a majority of their instructional time in an outdoor setting.

The loss of classroom space has forced a temporary move of some students to learning spaces — when not working directly with animals — at Butler Tech’s main campus but officials are optimistic they will be back to the Monroe classroom learning portion of their natural science education by the start of the 2022-2023 school year.

“The students from the Natural Science Center are taking their academic courses on the Fairfield Township Campus this year due to the construction,” Huff said. “The academic staff has also relocated so they will still be in academics with all students from the Natural Science Center. The students will still attend their labs, Equine Science, Veterinary Science and Landscape Design and Construction, at the Natural Science Center.”

“Butler Tech wanted to be sure that the project wasn’t just a quick fix but truly met the vision for the students and staff on that campus,” said Huff. “So (we) saved and planned for five years to make this project happen.”

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