‘This is a good deal’: Offerdahl investment quadruples pace of revolutionary ag research with global impact

Fargo, N.D. — Richard ’65 and Linda Offerdahl have invested nearly $1.2 million to establish a named faculty position that will advance revolutionary research on nitrogen-fixation in cereal crops, a new-to-nature association that would reduce the global dependence on nitrogen fertilizers in agricultural production. This breakthrough evolutionary event, which naturally occurs in legume crops, would significantly reduce the cost of farming expenditures while preventing harmful runoff into the environment.

“It’s pretty easy to understand why we’re investing in this — this is a good deal,” Richard said jovially. “I have a lot of experiences with good deals.”

Richard, an electrical engineering alumnus, is a successful businessman and entrepreneur who is renowned for his investment ventures in technology and innovative enterprises. His wife, Linda, a St. Cloud State alumna, has a background in education and business and is a dedicated social entrepreneur. The Offerdahls reside in Incline Village, Nevada, where Linda founded and continues to manage a thriving community and business association.

“We grew up with families with strong values, we developed a strong work ethic … and we’ve been very fortunate to be blessed with good health, financial success, and a wonderful family,” Linda said. “My sense of giving back is … to society in general, [which] has been very good to us … and we both want to make the world a better place.” 

The Offerdahls have consistently leveraged their financial success to drive positive change. Their generous support extends to various businesses, research, and academic programs that align with their shared vision for serving humankind. NDSU is honored to be the beneficiary of their profound dedication to scientific advancement and societal impact.

“The support that Richard and Linda are providing to create this faculty fellowship will allow NDSU to make significant advancements in nitrogen fixation and provide a means for NDSU to support outstanding faculty working in this area of research,” Greg Lardy, the vice president of agricultural affairs at NDSU, said. “We wish to thank the Offerdahls for their confidence in NDSU and in our faculty for this impactful gift.” 

Barney Geddes, an assistant professor of plant systems and microbial ecology, has been named the inaugural Richard and Linda Offerdahl Faculty Fellow. Barney earned his Ph.D. in microbiology from the University of Manitoba, where he studied symbiotic nitrogen fixation, and later completed two postdocs, one at McMaster University and one at the University of Oxford. He began teaching, researching, and leading outreach opportunities at NDSU in 2020, compelled by the University’s proximity to significant agricultural production and the statewide Extension offices.

“North Dakota farmers are really growing the crops that are feeding the world,” Barney said. “The Offerdahls’ gift will allow us at NDSU to participate as a major player in the global effort to develop cereal crops that can make their own nitrogen.”

To date, Richard and Linda have contributed nearly $1.2 million to support the pivotal research on nitrogen fixation that is happening in Barney’s lab. With their support, research that might have taken two decades can now be achieved in about five years. 

“I think that finding sustainable ways to farm and also making it more affordable to farmers is really important, and that’s what Barney is doing: improving sustainability in agriculture and making it more affordable … which you don’t really hear a lot in the same sentence,” Mia Haugan ’24, ’25, a microbiology student in Barney’s research lab, said.

NDSU is inspired by Richard and Linda’s curiosity, compassion, and commitment to the betterment of their community and the world at large. Their visionary contribution will pave the way for groundbreaking discoveries and a brighter future for agriculture and beyond.

The NDSU community is invited to attend the Richard and Linda Offerdahl Faculty Fellowship Ceremony on Oct. 20, 2023, at 2 p.m. in Van Es Hall, room 101, to celebrate this milestone philanthropic gift.


The NDSU Foundation builds enduring relationships that maximize advocacy and philanthropy to support North Dakota State University.


Bethany Hardwig 
Vice President of Alumni and Donor Connections 
NDSU Foundation