A $1.5 million gift from Farm Credit Services of America (FCSAmerica) will support a Ranch Management and Agriculture Leadership Center in the University of Wyoming College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
The center will train the next generation of ranch managers, wildland recreation professionals and agricultural leadership.
The gift will be doubled to $3 million by the state of Wyoming matching program. The matching funds for this gift are part an additional $6.5 million added in 2020 by the Wyoming Legislature to the state matching program. This investment is in addition to the more than $222 million in state match funding that has secured private gifts for UW since the inception of the program in 2001.
“As a financial cooperative, one of FCSAmerica’s most important missions is to serve agriculture by investing in its future,” says Mark Jensen, CEO and president of FCSAmerica, which lends to farmers and ranchers in four states, including Wyoming.
“We all have benefited from producers and industry leaders who have worked to preserve our natural resources and advocated for policies and infrastructure that guarantee a secure food system,” Jensen adds. “Future generations will be prepared to keep the industry moving forward because of the kind of educational opportunities offered through the Ranch Management and Agricultural Leadership Center.”
The Ranch Management and Agriculture Leadership Center will provide students with technical knowledge and real-world experiential learning opportunities in the private, public and nonprofit sectors of Western agriculture. The curriculum will be guided by ranch owners, agency professionals, agribusiness leaders, industry executives, elected officials, academics and UW alumni.
The program will offer three levels of education: a professional development and certification for current career ranch managers and agricultural leaders, and bachelor’s and master’s degrees in ranch management and agricultural leadership. Each level incorporates workforce development, practical experiences, research-based technical knowledge, real-world problem solving and interactions with industry leaders throughout the West.
In addition, the gift will support students with scholarships during their internship semesters, as well as stipends and program support for students in the post-baccalaureate program. Scholarships for individuals in the certificate and micro-credentialing program will encourage individuals with limited means to enroll, as students in this program would not be eligible for federal financial aid.
Students will integrate animal sciences, rangeland management, agricultural economics, agricultural communication, organizational leadership and political science. These concepts will be introduced early in the program and will culminate in multidisciplinary capstone courses and targeted experiential learning opportunities. The program will require students to complete at least two internships — for example, a working ranch and a relevant government agency, nonprofit or private organization.
“We are excited at the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources about the opportunities the generous gift from Farm Credit Services of America will provide for the next generation of professionals in range and ranch management,” says Barbara Rasco, dean of the college. “The agricultural leadership component of this program will provide students with the leadership and soft skills that they need to be successful in careers in this field.”
The center will be directed by a faculty member with agricultural expertise who uses innovative approaches to ranch management. The director’s responsibilities will include curriculum and internship development and seeking funding internally and externally through grants and private contributions. He or she also will create strong partnerships with everyone involved — UW, private landowners, public agencies, industry representatives and agribusiness.
“It is exciting to see an organization like Farm Credit Services of America come together with the University of Wyoming College of Agriculture and Natural Resources for such an important project,” says Doug Stark, UW Foundation Board member who was formerly with FCSAmerica. “What’s really gratifying is that this gift is a foundational step in helping the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources fulfill a very ambitious and aspirational vision. This partnership will jump-start great things for both the college and the University of Wyoming.”
Stark also is a 2013 Outstanding Alumnus of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources; serves on the college’s advisory board; and has co-taught leadership courses with the dean of the college.
“The partnership between Farm Credit Services of America and the University of Wyoming is a defining statement regarding the importance of agriculture to the state and its university,” says Ben Blalock, UW Foundation president. “FCSAmerica brings remarkable leadership and prestige to Wyoming’s university. I particularly appreciate the vision of my friend and UW Foundation Board member, Doug Stark.”
University of Wyoming News