Mark and Kim Young of Agency, Mo., are believers in the Kansas State University Animal Sciences and Industry Undergraduate Research Program. The couple recently announced their support of the program with the establishment of the Mark and Kim Young Undergraduate Research Fund in Animal Sciences and Industry through a $250,000 gift.
Mark says working with undergraduate research has greatly impacted his career, both during and after college. While attending K-State, Mark conducted research with professor Keith Bolsen for the Department of Animal Sciences and Industry.
"Receiving my bachelor's, master's, and doctorate from Kansas State University has allowed me to pursue my dreams and become the president and owner of a successful feed additive business," Mark says. He is president and owner of Star-Labs/Forage Research Inc. in Clarksdale, Mo.
"When I was a student, K-State ASI did not have an official undergraduate research program like the one offered now," Mark says. "I believe the program improves the overall education in the department and helps students improve their skills in critical thinking, communication and public speaking. Students will be able to utilize these skills for the rest of their college and professional careers."
According to Cassie Jones, ASI undergrad research coordinator, the Young Undergraduate Research Fund will be used for supplies to support undergraduate research projects, to fund travel for undergraduates to attend scientific meetings, and for awards at the ASI Undergraduate Research Forum each semester.
"The undergrad research program allows students to have a more well-rounded education — teaching them that research is important and is part of a real-life decision-making process. My hope is that this program grows to the point that it is a requirement for all ASI undergrads," Mark says.
Last spring, Mark served as one of the judges for the ASI Undergraduate Research Forum. "Having the students present the data and interact with professors, judges and other students is an extremely important part of this program," he says. "The forum was a great experience, and I enjoyed seeing how different students presented the same data in different ways."
Last year, 54 ASI undergraduates participated in undergraduate research projects. With this gift, the department is on track to have more than 100 student projects this year. Each semester, students have the opportunity to share their findings during the ASI Undergraduate Research Forum.
"I began participating in undergraduate research my sophomore year, when I was connected with K-State's Applied Swine Nutrition team for my first undergraduate research project," says Chloe Creager, a K-State ASI senior. "Aside from being an excellent learning experience, it helped me realize my interest in having a research-based career, and so far, has led to an additional research project, my summer internship experience, the coordination of my honors capstone project and my interest in attending graduate school. Undergraduate research has shaped my professional interests."
To learn more about the ASI Undergraduate Research Program, contact Jones at 785-532-5289 or [email protected].
"The ASI undergraduate research program has made an incredible impact on the direction my academic career has gone and the industry connections I have made," Creager adds. "Having more animal scientists and researchers is only going to become more crucial as the agriculture industry works on the challenge of sustainably feeding a growing population. While the university has made its interest in developing undergraduate research opportunities clear, alumni and outside donations like the Youngs' can go a long way toward making even more opportunities available to students."
Mark and his wife, Kim, have a daughter, Delaney, who is a sophomore at East Buchanan High School. The family enjoys showing pigs, and attending National Junior Swine Association Shows and the Missouri State Fair.
"The opportunities given to me by K-State have truly changed my life," Mark says. "The connections I made at K-State have helped forward my career as well. It is very satisfying to give back to an institution that has been a big part of your success."
Source: Kansas State University News Service