Farm Progress

Underwood family donates to Iowa State’s agricultural business and entrepreneurship programs.

September 5, 2017

3 Min Read
FUNDING HELPS: Iowa State University’s Ag Business Program is one of the largest undergraduate majors on the ISU campus. Also, ISU’s Ag Entrepreneurship Initiative is one of the top programs of its type in the world.

The Underwood Family Foundation of Ames has made a $1 million gift to support the ag business and ag entrepreneurship programs in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Iowa State University.

“Changing students’ experiences and their lives is our plan,” says Roger Underwood, foundation director of the Underwood Family Foundation. “We are so supportive of Iowa State’s agricultural business and agricultural entrepreneurship programs. Our goal is to help ensure they remain the best in the world. The support we provide will bolster programming, teaching and student experiences, and as a result, we believe it will help change agriculture in Iowa.”

The gift will help provide leading-edge experiences for students studying ag business and ag entrepreneurship.

Provides more learning opportunities for students
“Thanks to this generous gift from the Underwood family, we will be able to magnify the impact of two of our college’s most respected and successful programs,” said Wendy Wintersteen, endowed dean of ISU’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “This additional funding will help us provide more hands-on experiences, networking and integrated learning opportunities for our students.”

The gift will provide program support that may include items such as a new lecturer position to help teach and mentor students, development of new courses that present students with problem-solving challenges from entrepreneurs and agribusinesses, and establishment of a new series of academic workshops to help students hone their entrepreneurial thinking and behaviors, as well as applied business and finance skills.

A top undergrad major at ISU
The Underwood Family Foundation’s commitment is part of the Forever True, For Iowa State campaign, with a historic goal to raise $1.1 billion, which will help support Iowa State in becoming the premier land-grant university for the 21st century and beyond. The Iowa State University Foundation is a private, nonprofit organization committed to securing and managing gifts that benefit ISU.

The agricultural business program in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences is one of the largest undergraduate majors on the ISU campus, with 523 students enrolled last fall. Agricultural business has a longstanding tradition of excellence, combining an education in business, management and economics, with solid technical knowledge in production ag and skills in communication and problem-solving. The Agricultural Business Club, with nearly 275 student members, has been named the nation’s outstanding chapter 11 out of the last 15 years by the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.

Providing practical experience for students
The Agricultural Entrepreneurship Initiative is one of the top programs of its type in the world, providing students with practical business development and entrepreneurial experiences essential for their success in future careers and endeavors. More than 700 students participate in educational activities and programs each year, allowing them to experience entrepreneurship firsthand. Innovation and business creation are fundamental to long-term economic growth.

The initiative at ISU was established in 2005 with a $1.6 million gift from Roger and Connie Underwood.

Roger founded Becker Underwood Co., in Ames, Iowa. It was sold to BASF in 2012. Becker Underwood was a global provider of seed treatments, seed treatment colors and polymers, and a developer of biological crop protection products. The firm also sold its animal nutrition business to BASF in 2012.

Source: Iowa State University


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