$10M gift to support MSU ag, youth programs
Programs promoting precision agriculture, youth development, agriculture scholarships and the state's farm and ranch heritage will all benefit from a newly announced $10 million gift to Montana State University.
The largest portion of the gift, $5 million, will endow a dedicated faculty chair in precision agriculture who will lead development of new technologies and their data-driven applications for the future of Montana's largest industry.
The new faculty chair position will work to help Montanans improve profitability, agricultural efficiency and sustainability, according to Sreekala Bajwa, vice president of agriculture, dean of the College of Agriculture and director of the Montana Agricultural Experiment Station.
A shrinking workforce and ever-changing global competition means that, more than ever, the future of Montana agriculture will depend on new technologies, she said.
"Advances in agricultural production, profitability and efficiency will be vital to Montana's future competitiveness in the global market, and MSU is a driving force in moving the state ahead in this area," Bajwa said. "Having skilled, talented and proactive professors at MSU will impact generations of Montanans who will be taught, mentored and inspired by this new leader and then take what they’ve learned back home to help our Montana communities."
In addition to the faculty chair, the endowments will provide $3 million to MSU Extension’s 4-H youth development programs, dramatically increasing 4-H's reach and impact in all 56 Montana counties and all seven reservations. The goal, said Cody Stone, executive director of MSU Extension, is to encourage youth to find ways to help their communities meet local and statewide needs.
"Montana's 4-H program helps Montana youth learn important life skills and grow leadership qualities to become the state's next generation of leaders," Stone said. "These programs directly benefit Montana youth, guiding them to find careers in fields that help their hometowns thrive."
The donated funds will support 4-H programs and develop new initiatives aimed at building young people who are confident, hard-working, responsible and compassionate, Stone said.
Also receiving support from the gift, at $1 million each, will be a new scholarship fund supporting MSU students pursuing a degree in the College of Agriculture and the Dan Scott Ranch Management program.
The new endowed scholarship fund will provide funding for students looking to pursue agricultural studies at MSU, and the Dan Scott Ranch Management Program at MSU educates the next generation of Montana ranch managers and provides the skills and knowledge to create more profitable ranches and improve natural resource use.
"Developing agriculture leaders and technologies to help this vital part of the state's economy have been foundational missions for Montana State for 129 years," said MSU President Waded Cruzado. "We are beyond grateful for these endowments, which will allow us to continue and expand that mission."
"This tremendous gift will provide resources to help our students meet the future as agriculturally literate consumers, advocates and policymakers," said Chris Murray, president and CEO of the MSU Alumni Foundation. "Montanans in every corner of the state will feel the impact of this generous gift. We are incredibly humbled and honored to receive this critical investment."