Washington State University is one giant step closer to becoming a world model for research, teaching and extension in organic and sustainable agriculture thanks to a $5 million donor investment announced here this afternoon.
“Washington State University has played an important role in the region’s organic and sustainable agriculture for quite some time, establishing the nation’s first four-year organic agriculture systems major in 2006,” said WSU President Elson S. Floyd. “WSU’s ability to serve this economically important and growing industry regionally, nationally and around the globe will be greatly enhanced by this generous investment.”
WSU officials announced a $5 million investment by alumni and natural foods pioneers Chuck and Louanna Eggert and their family to expand the WSU Organic Farm from four acres to nearly 30 acres. The expansion provides WSU with the largest organic teaching farm on a university campus in the United States.
“This gift reflects how much our whole family appreciates what the university is doing to prepare future leaders in the food industry, and in particular, the organic students,” said Chuck Eggert, who with Louanna founded Pacific Natural Foods in 1987. The couple, who met while attending WSU, have grown the company from a small soymilk production company to a global leader in natural food development, sustainable and organic farming and land stewardship that supports farmers and ranchers.
“This is a game changer for the program,” said John Reganold, WSU Regents Professor of Soil Sciences and Agroecology who leads the university’s organic agriculture major. “This investment by the Eggert family sets the stage for WSU to lead not only the nation, but the world in the field of organic agriculture.”
The gift was announced during an Organic and Sustainable Agriculture Summit organized by the WSU College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences. Forty representatives from every aspect of the organic and sustainable food and agriculture industry in the Pacific Northwest attended.
The Eggerts’ gift will be counted as part of the university’s $1 billion comprehensive fundraising effort: The Campaign for Washington State University: Because the World Needs Big Ideas. To date, generous donors, businesses and organizations have committed more than $680 million to the Campaign for WSU to increase support for the university’s students, faculty, research and extension programs and to leverage the university’s impact across the state, nation and world.