To student scholars gathered at a recent College of Agriculture and Life Sciences event, young alumnus Daniel Alvey gave clear-cut advice: Meet as many people as you can who can help you prepare for your career.
Speaking by video, Alvey said that networking was the key to his being able to land a good career job with Elanco Animal Health soon after graduation, and he encouraged attendees at the March 20 CALS Scholar and Donor Recognition Reception to use their time with donors and industry leaders to begin defining their future.
The reception presented the chance for scholarship recipients and donors to get to know each other during an afternoon of conversation, exhibits, photo opportunities and hors d’oeuvres at the McKimmon Center on NC State’s campus.
Dr. Steve Lommel, associate dean for research, and Dr. John Dole, interim associate dean for academic programs, thanked donors for their generous support. Lommel ackowledged the passage of ConnectNC, the bond package supporting infrastructure throughout the state, as well as the Plant Sciences Initiative leadership donors, including Golden LEAF, the N.C. Small Grain Growers Association, the N.C. Soybean Producers Association, the N.C. Farm Bureau and the N.C. Agricultural Foundation.
Each year, Dole said, nearly 450 support funds provide CALS students with more than $1 million for scholarships and fellowships as well as research, leadership, travel and other opportunities.
“Overall there are more than 700 endowments in CALS generating $3.8 million every year to help the college fulfill its teaching, research and extension mission,” Dole said. “Endowment support is a large part of the overall philanthropic picture, and a health endowment makes for a very healthy future for the college.”
Among the endowment donors recognized at the reception were Windell and Judy Talley, the latest members of NC State’s Lifetime Giving Societies. Earlier in the week, the Talleys pledged a gift of $1 million to renovate and endow the Turkey Education Unit at the Lake Wheeler Road Field Labs.
Owner of Talley Farms Inc. and Talley Farms Feed Mill, Windell Talley is a distinguished college alumnus who earned his bachelor’s degree in poultry science in 1963. He is a member of the NC Poultry Hall of Fame, and he and his wife have been recognized by the American Farm Bureau as a leading farm couple.
Another recent donor, alumnus Dr. Garnett Whitehurst, was also present, speaking by video to encourage student scholars to take advantage of the opportunities that donors can help provide.
Inspired by an undergraduate research experience with an NC State mentor in biochemistry, Whitehurst endowed a scholarship in the Farm-to-Philanthropy program. Designed by fellow donors Joe and Debbie Gordon, the program expands rural students’ access to NC State.
One of the beneficiaries of the Farm-to-Philanthropy program is Benjamin Alig, who expressed his appreciation for the STEAM program, or Student Transfer Enrollment Advising and Mentoring. Through STEAM, Alig was able to chart a path to NC State that began with community college.
Alig is studying poultry science and agricultural business management at NC State as he continues operating a poultry hatchery that he started when he was 11, selling chickens to people who want their own backyard flocks. STEAM, he said, gave him a “tremendous opportunity” to continue being part of the agricultural sector.
“What I am doing here helping people feed themselves in their own backyard will take … some of the burden off the agricultural industry, so it can focus on other things such as feeding people in Third World counties who can’t necessarily feed themselves,” Alig said.
“Being part of the agricultural industry is something you should be proud of,” the 2015 graduate in agricultural science and agricultural education told the audience. “We are part of something that feeds and clothes the world every single day. And I truly believe we are going to be able to meet the challenges we face in the industry as far as meeting the demand for food for a growing population.
“Now is the time,” he said to the student scholars at the reception, “to find your role in that solution.”
– D. Shore