The mission of the Middleburg Agricultural Research and Extension Center is to create new knowledge, transform lives, and advance the health and well-being of the horse through the power of discovery, education and outreach.

History of the AREC

The Middleburg Agricultural Research and Extension (MARE) Center was established in 1949 through the generous donation of land and facilities by the late Paul Mellon. The farm covers 420 acres in the heart of Northern Virginia's hunt country, and is home to Virginia Tech's internationally-regarded sporthorse breeding program.  When Mr. Mellon passed in 1999, he left an endowment to the center to fund research, teaching and outreach activities focusing on the horse. 

For more than a decade, the MARE Center has been instrumental in advancing the frontier of knowledge related to the care and well-being of the horse.  Many of today's common practices regarding equine nutrition, growth and development, pasture management and exercise physiology were developed as a result of research conducted at the Center.  Today, we continue the rich tradition of research in pasture-based nutrition, and have expanded our discovery efforts to include additional disciplines of genetics, immunology, reproduction and behavior. 

Researcher and a horse

Carrying Mr. Mellon's vision forward, in 2010, Virginia Tech launched a unique learning experience for graduate and undergraduate students.  Participants in Virginia Tech's new Equine Studies Program at Middleburg contribute to all aspects of a large-scale research facility, outreach center and commercial equine enterprise while simultaneously engaging in a full semester of coursework.  This immersive learning environment is designed for those students with a sincere desire to become leaders in the horse industry, academia, or the veterinary sciences.  Students also have the opportunity to enroll in summer internship programs and independent research projects at the center, distance learning courses, and study abroad programs. 

Along with this new educational paradigm comes a new program of research. Faculty at the MARE Center have teamed up with Virginia Tech's School of Education and Department of Agricultural and Extension Education to design and assess new teaching and learning strategies for equine science education. These partnerships help Virginia Tech prepare the next generation of scientists and industry leaders, and position the MARE Center as a premier institution of equine science.