When College of Agriculture and Life Sciences donors and scholarship recipients got together on Sunday afternoon, April 12, at NC State University’s McKimmon Center, it was like a family gathering.
In fact, CALS junior Cara Pace set the tone for the event in her welcoming address. An agricultural business management major, with a minor in crop science, Pace is recipient of three Robert N. Wood Scholarships and awards from the George Lucas Scholarship Endowment and the Fred Bond Tobacco Scholarship. She thanked all the scholarship and fellowship benefactors for believing in students enough to invest in their future and said, “The donors enable us to do so much. Now I get to meet my donor and form an amazing relationship – a family.”
Picking up on that note was Dr. Sam Pardue, CALS associate dean and director of Academic Programs, who said, “We are truly a family, and families reach out and help one another. Every donor in this room has reached out to bring another person into our family or to make our family stronger through their passion, support and advocacy.”
Pardue noted that the college has more than 800 endowments and annual awards supporting its students, programs, departments and faculty.
He then introduced Gail and Joe Dunn, daughter and son-in-law of long-time Sampson County agriculture teacher Adolph Warren, in whose honor the Dunns gave a $2 million gift to create the Adolph Warren Leadership Program Fund and Endowment. The new Warren program will benefit CALS students who have an interest in and potential for leadership and public service in agriculture.
Also there to thank the Dunns was Grayer Sherrill, a CALS senior in agricultural business management, who is one of seven undergraduates in the inaugural class of Warren Leadership and Public Policy Fellows.
Sherrill spoke of how, as an FFA state officer, he often heard the name of Adolph Warren, “a true hero of agricultural education in North Carolina.” This year, he said, “I heard about this program in agriculture and public policy. Then I heard it was to memorialize Adolph Warren, so I knew it was something I had to get involved in. It’s been a true blessing.”
Said Pardue, “The support our donors provide makes a real difference in the lives of our students, and Grayer is a fine example.”
He then cited a comment made by NC State Chancellor Randy Woodson in 2014:“Higher education offers a path to success, and this generous gift will help open the doors to college for hard-working students across North Carolina.”
The gift that Woodson was referring to was the $3 million commitment made by Dr. Joe and Debbie Gordon to launch the CALS Farm to Philanthropy program, designed to expand rural students’ access to an NC State education. Pardue then presented a video in commemoration of the Gordons and their generosity.
The video featured the Gordons along with testimonials from students in the CALS STEAM (Student Transfer Enrollment, Advising and Mentoring) program who have benefitted from the Gordon’s gift and its aim to help students graduate debt-free.
“We can all do more than what we think we can,” said Debbie Gordon in the video.
The Gordons were also at the reception and received the applause of the audience of fellow donors and students, along with the thanks of STEAM students also in attendance.
As the students and donors mingled, they enjoyed a buffet of heavy hors d’oeuvres, as well as Howling Cow Ice Cream from the Department of Food, Bioprocessing and Nutrition Sciences.
Around the room were informational displays from faculty and students, including research poster presentations from entomology Ph.D. student Katharine A. Swoboda Bhattarai, animal science pre-vet senior Erin Beasley and crop science research specialist Heather Glennon.
Pardue closed the event saying, “I am very glad everyone in this room was able to join us today and meet more members of the CALS family. We thank you for your vital support of the college.”
And being the proud holder of three NC State degrees that he is, Pardue offered the following words in parting: “Every time you are fed, thank someone who wears red.” – Terri Leith