Upgrading aging infrastructure at nine research and extension centers around the state is a main goal, the new director of the University of Idaho's Agricultural Experiment Station said.
Mark McGuire told the Capital Press that some of that infrastructure dates back to the 1960s and 1970s and needs upgrading so researchers have modern facilities and equipment.
"We're trying to revitalize all of the college's infrastructure," he said, noting the college will try to get state, federal and private money to pay for the upgrades.
Late last month McGuire was named the director after serving as the interim director since August 2015.
McGuire, who has spent his entire 21-year career as a professor and researcher at the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, will also serve as the college's associate dean of research. He previously headed the animal and veterinary science department.
About 20 percent of the Agriculture and Life Sciences staff will retire over the next five years, and McGuire said finding high-quality researchers to replace those 40 to 50 people is another big goal for him.
"We need to be prepared to bring in new people to address the needs of Idaho agriculture," he said. "We're going to be looking to replace some people who are critical to Idaho agriculture."
In general, McGuire said he sees the college as a research and development arm for Idaho agriculture.
"He understands our students, this college, this university and the state," said College of Agricultural and Life Sciences Dean Michael Parrella in a statement. "I believe he fully appreciates the opportunities and the challenges facing Idaho agriculture."
Farm industry leaders have reacted positively to the selection.
"Mark is very engaged," said Idaho Wheat Commission board member Bill Flory, who grows wheat in northern Idaho. "I think he sees the future and understands the importance of research to our industry."