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Fundraising going strong for CSU Agricultural Education program

November 12, 2012
by Coleman Cornelius

A leader in global agribusiness has provided a pacesetting gift to CSU and the Colorado FFA Foundation for construction of a state-of-the-art agricultural education facility envisioned as a training ground for CSU students preparing to teach agricultural sciences.

CSU student Elisa Sagehorn instructs a class in the Windsor High School agricultural education program. Students like Sagehorn will learn to lead high school ag-ed and FFA programs in a new facility supported by CHS.CHS Inc., a Fortune 100 company, donated $100,000 to the Agricultural Education Campaign. With help from the donation, the campaign is about one-third of the way to its $3 million fundraising goal.

Shaping today's leaders

The CHS gift is earmarked for a new facility, called the Center for Agricultural Education, to be constructed on the grounds of CSU’s Agricultural Research, Development and Education Center north of Fort Collins. Groundbreaking is expected in two years.

The building will encompass more than 18,000 square feet, with customized laboratory, technology, teaching and office space. It also will include special exhibit space for the Colorado Agriculture Hall of Fame, a program of the Colorado FFA Foundation.

“The Center for Agricultural Education at CSU is an important project because it will shape leaders now attending college, as well as high school students and many others who learn about agricultural sciences from CSU graduates,” said William Nelson, vice president for CHS Corporate Citizenship.

CHS, headquartered near Minneapolis, runs operations in energy, grains, foods, and business services. Owned by U.S. farmers, ranchers and cooperatives, CHS has a long-standing commitment to investing in the future of rural America, agriculture and cooperative business, especially through education and leadership development.

“Instructors in agricultural education need to be trained to the highest level possible in leadership skills, research, and technology because they help provide our industry with a foundation of human capital and future innovation,” said Don Thorn, executive director of the Colorado FFA Foundation, which is partnering with CSU on the project. “We greatly appreciate the CHS gift because it helps fulfill these needs.”

Clay Miller, a student in CSU's Agricultural Education Program, conducts a leadership session with students in the Windsor High School ag-ed program. The Agricultural Education Campaign, launched by CSU and the Colorado FFA Foundation, supports CSU students preparing to become ag-ed instructors at the high school level.Growing program

The Center for Agricultural Education will be home base for CSU’s quickly growing Agricultural Education Program, which prepares undergraduate students to lead high school agriculture and FFA programs. The CSU Agricultural Education Program has about 40 undergraduate students enrolled, with an additional 12 pursuing agricultural education at the graduate level.

Graduates have been in high demand, said Kellie Enns, assistant professor in the CSU Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, who heads the program.

“We need to expand our agricultural education program at CSU because our industry has a great task in producing food for a booming global population,” Enns said. “We need to draw new, highly qualified professionals into agriculture, and one of the best ways to do that is through formal agricultural education programs in high schools. These high school students often become very passionate about agriculture and pursue advanced training and degrees.”

Enns added, “I am incredibly grateful for support of the Ag Ed Campaign. With this support, we will be able to do a much better job preparing quality individuals to lead agricultural-education programs and the agriculture industry.”

Kellie Enns, CSU assistant professor of agricultural education, says her program trains current college students while attracting younger students into agricultural sciences.  Continuing support of students

Mel Domine, managing director of the CHS division in Yuma, Colo., said he also sees benefits of the company’s donation to CSU Agricultural Education.

“We are tickled to be of some support. We’re very interested in finding ways to help advance agricultural education, and CSU is a great source of talent in agriculture,” said Domine, noting that CHS has hired a number of College of Agricultural Sciences graduates.

In fact, CHS has supported CSU’s College of Agricultural Sciences for three decades, with funding for faculty research; the Ram Camp fall orientation program for incoming undergraduates; and five annual student scholarships. The company also has attended career fairs for college students and regularly hires interns pursuing degrees in the college.

Other donors who have provided significant gifts to the Agricultural Education Campaign include George and Georgetta Tempel of Wiley, Colo., and Dale and Judy McCall of Longmont, Colo.