Furthering Ag Leaders

CHS and the CHS Foundation are the recipients of the 2023 Partner in Excellence Award, which recognizes a corporation, foundation, or organization that has given significant support as well as demonstrated inspirational philanthropic giving in the University.

Story by Micaela Gerhardt | March 21, 2023

Josh Benning, CHS Agronomy Senior Sales Representative, Gary Henslin, producer

As the giving arm of the nation’s leading farmer-owned cooperative, the CHS Foundation is committed to developing ag leaders for life through partnerships that advance cooperative education and agricultural leadership. For more than 60 years, CHS and the CHS Foundation have made numerous strategic investments in the University through support to student scholarships, faculty, programs, events, and facilities.

“It’s really just a privilege for us to be in a position where we can help support these important initiatives and know that university work is a rising tide that lifts all boats,” Megan Wolle, president of the CHS Foundation, said.

Because CHS sees a need for advancements across agricultural education, the CHS Foundation has made generous gifts to multiple areas of agriculture on campus. Most notably, in 2016, the CHS Foundation funded a $2.5 million grant to establish the endowed CHS Chair in Risk Management and Trading at NDSU, a position held by University Distinguished Professor William Wilson. By investing in faculty excellence, the CHS Foundation has helped prepare countless NDSU students who are pursuing careers in the commodity marketing business, providing long-term benefits to the agriculture industry in North Dakota, the region, and beyond.

Students in commodity marketing-related fields also benefit from the CHS Foundation’s support of NDSU’s Commodity Trading Room in Richard H. Barry Hall, a laboratory space dedicated to teaching students about risks related to financial analysis and commodity marketing.

Together, CHS and NDSU are also advancing cooperatives for long-term success through the CHS Leading for Results Program, which was created in partnership with NDSU in 2019. The program brings company managers and executives to campus for annual leadership training conducted by NDSU faculty and staff. The CHS Foundation has also invested in NDSU’s Quentin N. Burdick Center for Cooperatives, which strives to provide education, research, and outreach that will strengthen cooperative operations and expand employment and economic opportunities in North Dakota and the region.

“We know how important it is to have those areas of excellence around cooperatives to help train our cooperative board of directors so that they have the skills needed, and we know that the future of the cooperative systems really broadly depends on strong leadership at the local level,” Megan said.

To help educate the next generation of ag leaders, the CHS Foundation has established the CHS Foundation Scholarship and has contributed to the College of Agriculture Excellence Fund. They have also provided grant support to NDSU’s precision ag degree program, which was established in 2018 to help meet the needs of transformative technology in agriculture. In addition, CHS has been an ongoing supporter of NDSU’s Harvest Bowl.

“We know not enough students are choosing agriculture as a career path, and we need a robust pipeline of individuals across the spectrum — in training and precision ag, in finance and some of those more core functions for our organization — so that speaks to why we’ve made investments across campus,” Megan said. “It’s not just in one area of agriculture that we need a robust pipeline — it’s really broad, like the industry of ag is.”

In addition to the scholarships and ag curriculum support at NDSU, the CHS Foundation supports more than 220 scholarships at 25 different two- and four-year colleges and universities across the U.S. Through its philanthropic efforts across the country, the CHS Foundation has helped educate nearly 15,000 students about the cooperative model and nearly 22,000 students about agricultural careers since 2001.

“We at CHS are so, so grateful for recognition of our partnership and all of the amazing work that NDSU has done with this support,” Megan said. “It’s our privilege to provide support that really helps enable the work that NDSU is able to do.”

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