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National Agricultural Center Reopens For 2015 Season

The National Agricultural Center & Hall of Fame in Bonner Springs, Kansas has reopened for the 2015 season after a lengthy hiatus.

The roughly 150-acre facility was first chartered by Congress and President Dwight Eisenhower in 1960 and opened its doors in 1965, nearly 50 years ago. 

But the Ag Center has never received governmental funding, and for nearly 10 years has struggled to keep its doors open. It even had to close early last May due to a lack of sponsorship.

But newly hired Executive Director Dawn Gabel says early attempts at finding corporate sponsors have been going well. 

"Emergency fundraising, where you say, 'Oh, we need to paint, let's find a painter,' is okay, but when you start doing that, you don't build a foundation," Gabel said. "We will be seeking large major donors from both corporate and private entities."

One of those sponsors is Bayer CropScience, which has donated a new sculpture to the Ag Center's museum called "Leave A Better World," that tries to promote sustainability in agriculture.

Lauren Dorsch is part of Bayer's health division. She says most people are surprised to hear that the company is involved in agriculture.

"We're proud makers of aspirin, that's our flagship product," Dorsch said. "But people don't realize that Bayer is also involved in agriculture and food. The Agricultural Center has a lot of potential to be a great tourist attraction."

Gabel says the Ag Center will continue to seek out large donors and also encourage visitors to become members for a $45 annual fee.

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