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Northwest Missouri State University

News Release

July 31, 2015

Sunderland Foundation grants $100,000 in support of ag center

The Sunderland Foundation of Kansas City, Kan., will contribute $100,000 over two years to help fund the construction of Northwest Missouri State University’s proposed Agricultural Learning Center.

“The fact that it will provide lots of educational opportunities for farmers was an interest to our trustees,” Kent Sunderland, president of the Sunderland Foundation, said. “We want to see rural schools and rural markets continue to thrive, and this is a good educational opportunity for young people who want to pick that as their vocation.”

The Sunderland Foundation, one of the largest foundations serving the region, focuses on supporting brick and mortar projects and awarding grants to nonprofits in the Kansas City region. It annually supports areas of interest such as higher education, youth-serving agencies, health facilities, community buildings, museums and civic projects as well as low maintenance, energy-efficient housing projects.

The Sunderland Foundation was established in 1945 by Lester T. Sunderland, who served as president of the Ash Grove Cement Company for 33 years.

“Through the Sunderland Foundation’s support and giving as well as an evolving and progressive agriculture curriculum at Northwest and partnerships with industry leaders, Northwest and the Agricultural Learning Center can continue to influence generations of students and the communities they better,” said Mitzi Craft, Northwest’s director of corporate and foundation relations.

Plans for the Agricultural Learning Center, which is being largely funded by donors, call for an $8.5 million facility encompassing 24,000 square feet of multi-use space that will include a lecture hall, laboratory space, meeting facilities and an exposition hall, all designed to meet the needs of the University and its students, the agriculture industry and the broader community.

The Agricultural Learning Center will be situated north of the Northwest campus on the University’s 448-acre R.T. Wright Farm, which is home to beef, swine, dairy, poultry and sheep herds as well as row, silage and hay crops.

In addition to supporting the University’s agriculture programming at the Wright Farm, the facility will support FFA and 4-H youth functions, including educational activities and contests; agricultural industry meetings, training workshops and events; equipment and product demonstrations; local, regional and national livestock shows and sales; agricultural literacy training; food processing; agricultural banquets and other events of interest to agricultural commodity groups in Missouri, Iowa and beyond.

Northwest’s School of Agricultural Sciences also is experiencing rapid growth. In fact, 9.2 percent of Northwest’s undergraduates are agriculture students, which amounts to more than 500 students each year who are getting hands-on, profession-based experience in the field. Additionally, nearly 98 percent of them find employment or continue their education upon graduation.

The School of Agricultural Sciences offers seven agricultural majors in business, education, science, agronomy, animal science, animal science-pre vet and horticulture, in addition to seven minors, a two-year farm operations certificate and three master’s programs. It draws students from not only the four-state region, but throughout the U.S. and internationally.

To learn more about Northwest’s School of Agricultural Sciences, visit

For more information about ways to support Northwest’s agriculture programming or to make a gift in support of the University through the Northwest Foundation, contact the Office of University Advancement at 660.562.1248 or

For more information, please contact:

Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager | 660.562.1704 | Fax: 660.562.1900

Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468