UW Foundation supports ag collegeWritten by Saige Albert
Laramie – The agriculture community across the state of Wyoming provides tremendous support for the University of Wyoming (UW) College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and Pepper Jo Six, major gift officer with the University of Wyoming Foundation, says she provides a conduit to help people determine where their giving can make an impact for UW and bettering opportunities for students.
Endowments make the biggest impact by creating a sustained source of income for a specific project. Endowments can be created to fund student scholarships, professorships, research expenses and Dean’s Excellence Funds.
“For example, a gift of $25,000 creates an endowment that initially produces approximately $1,000 of annual income to be applied to uses important to the donor,” Six explains. “The larger the gift, the more annual income for expenditure is created.”
Six, who works with the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, says the college is working on several new efforts.
“One of the initiatives we are currently working on is a Sheep Industry Proposal,” she explains. “We are looking to raise a $1 million endowment to spin off $40,000 per year for sheep-specific research.”
This initiative came about from two sheep producers seeking a way to help improve the availability of funding for research.
“They asked what they could do 8to step up and contribute toward sheep research,” Six says. “So, in addition to their personal contributions, they rallied other sheepherders to set a goal of raising a $1 million for this project.”
This endowment allows the college to prioritize and fund sheep-specific research, which is important for the state and producers, strengthening an industry for the generations to come.
There are a variety of options for contributing to the endowment, and Six explains that she is happy to discuss options with anyone who is interested.
Wildlife and natural resources
“We also have the Wildlife-Livestock Health Center, and we’re trying to raise $10 million in an endowment to ensure important research funding for the center,” Six says.
The Wyoming Wildlife-Livestock Health Center is important to two of Wyoming’s major industries – tourism and livestock production, which are both dependent upon maintaining healthy animal populations in Wyoming and the surrounding states. The center is one-of-a-kind worldwide. It is focused on the health and ecology of wildlife and large domestic animals, and basic research is intricately tied with applied research in the field.
“Because of our investments in faculty and students, UW is fast becoming a world leader in this area,” Six adds.
The Wyoming Restoration Reclamation Center (WRRC) is also another area that UW is working to fund through endowment dollars. The mission of the center is to promote natural resource production and healthy ecosystems in Wyoming by facilitating reclamation and restoration of sites impacted by natural resource development.
WRRC educates new professionals, provides and confirms new information through research and addresses concerns from industry, government and the public.
“In fact, WRRC is instrumental in providing important data to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on land reclamation and sage grouse habitat restoration efforts in Wyoming to assist with their decision not to put the sage grouse on the endangered species list. They also provide data to big petroleum companies for reclaiming land and making sure it is restored in the right way,” Six says.
In addition to scholarships, Six notes that the UW Foundation emphasizes several efforts focused on student engagements.
“The SEND program provides money for students to go to national annual meetings,” she explains. “For example, if a student is part of Range Club and wants to go to the national Society for Range Management meeting, they can apply to have the registration for the event funded.”
Six continues, “We are also advocating for students to represent the UW College of Ag and provide professional development.”
The program is championed by alum Tom Davidson, who also supports the Cowboy Joe Handler program. Davidson is passionate about allowing students opportunities that benefit them professionally and will have a long-lasting impact.
“Beyond the Classroom is a separate student engagement program focused on supporting international travel for students,” Six adds. “It supplements what UW does to fund international study for students, allowing less of a financial burden for students who seek an international education experience. In an increasingly global economy, we want UW students to have an international experience and apply what they learn when they come back home. ”
Six explains, “I take all of these projects, meet people around the state and see if I can pair their passion with one of our efforts. I provide the conduit.”
“People give based upon their passions,” she says. “My job is to help make people aware of the opportunities that are available.”
With the myriad of ongoing projects at UW, Six says there are lots of opportunities available, and she is happy to provide proposals or information on any program.
The funds position the UW College of Agriculture as the top scholarship provider at the University of Wyoming.
“What we provide our students is amazing,” Six says. “As a land-grant institution, our job is to provide education and research opportunities that will help producers,” she continues. “If other individuals or organizations would like to discuss collaboration or gift possibilities, we welcome an opportunity to visit.”