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Northwest alumni Carl and Cheryl Hughes remain loyal to the University and recently provided funding support for its planned Agricultural Learning Center. (Northwest Missouri State University photo)

Northwest alumni Carl and Cheryl Hughes remain loyal to the University and recently provided funding support for its planned Agricultural Learning Center. (Northwest Missouri State University photo)

Aug. 23, 2019

Continuing emphasis on profession-based learning motivates Hughes to support Agricultural Learning Center

A business finance degree from Northwest Missouri State University helped Carl Hughes embark on a successful career in the energy industry, but his farming roots were a key influence, too. For that reason he and his wife, Cheryl, are adding their support to the University’s Agricultural Learning Center.

The couple has provided $100,000 in support of the planned facility at the University’s R.T. Wright Farm. The estimated $8.5 million, 29,000-square-foot multipurpose center will include classrooms and laboratory resources to supplement and enhance academic curriculum. It also is expected to allow for research and scholarly activities centered on crop, soil and livestock resources as well as space for processing agricultural products. It will include space for public and private functions such as producer and agricultural industry meetings, workshops, shows and career development events, as well as the promotion of agricultural literacy.

“The School of Agricultural Sciences is one of the shining stars of Northwest,” Carl said. “Cheryl and I care a great deal about the success of this program and the quality and preparedness of the students it graduates into the workplace. Coming from rural America – raised in an agricultural background – Cheryl and I understand the critical role that agriculture plays in the region and our country.”

Both Carl and Cheryl are members of multi-generational farming families in Clinton County. Carl’s family has farmed in the area since before the Civil War, and their farm remains in the family today. Cheryl’s family farmed in Belgium until the turn of the 20th century when they immigrated to the United States and continued farming in western Missouri. 

“Our family legacy is farming – diversified northwest farming, swine, cattle, corn, soybeans and small grains,” Carl said. “In earlier years, sheep and poultry were in the mix.”

They understand the need for the Agricultural Learning Center to support programming and opportunities that help Northwest students be career ready in ag-related jobs. Carl and Cheryl also are supportive of the project because of the high-quality, high-value education Northwest continues to deliver. They appreciate the meaningful role Northwest plays in educating and preparing students to be successful in society.

“Our current agricultural facilities need a serious upgrade to compete and deliver the highest quality of training and education,” Carl said. “The Ag Learning Center is the centerpiece of this upgrade.”

Carl, who is a member of the Northwest Foundation Board of Directors, graduated from Northwest in 1976 with a degree in business finance; he was active as a Northwest student, playing on the Bearcat football team and was a member of Sigma Tau Gamma fraternity. Cheryl earned her degree in speech in 1978 and was a Bearcat cheerleader and a member of Sigma Sigma Sigma sorority. Both were first-generation college students.

Now residing in Kansas City, Missouri, Carl and Cheryl raised four children. Carl retired in 2012 as senior vice president of Inergy LP, a publicly traded energy company he co-founded.

Carl and Cheryl, through the Hughes Family Foundation, played a significant role in raising funds and support for the Carl and Cheryl Hughes Fieldhouse. In 2012, the couple provided funding to support Northwest’s Student Success Center.

“Carl and Cheryl have never forgotten their roots – whether it be in farming, this region of the state or at Northwest Missouri State University – and for that, we are so very thankful,” Mitzi Marchant, Northwest’s director of donor engagement, said. “The communities and organizations they support continue to benefit from their generosity, and will do so for many years to come, and we are grateful for their steadfast commitment.”


About Northwest’s School of Agricultural Sciences

Northwest’s School of Agricultural Sciences – one of the largest and most unique agricultural science programs in the Midwest – served an enrollment of 672 agriculture majors during 2018-19. The School boasts an 84.1 percent retention rate compared to the national average of 68.7 percent, and 98.2 percent of its graduates are securing employment or advancing their education within six months of earning degrees.

The R.T. Wright Farm provides opportunities for Northwest students in ag science-related majors to gain profession-based experience with beef, swine, dairy and sheep enterprises as well as row and forage crops. Students in the School of Agricultural Sciences also benefit from access to Northwest’s Horticulture Complex, which includes seven greenhouses with state-of-the-art technology, and the McKemy Center for Lifelong Learning, which houses a commodity trading room providing up-to-the-minute commodities information and computer work stations.

In preparation for the Agricultural Learning Center and other improvements to the Wright Farm, Northwest is working with the Missouri Department of Transportation on a $1.2 million effort to better connect the farm to its Highway 71 entrance and add turn lanes for traffic safety as well as defining entry features such as signage, fencing and landscaping.

Northwest also is partnering with the Maryville R-II School District’s Northwest Technical School on a 1,300-square-foot home on the Wright Farm. The new home is being constructed just north of the Wright Farm’s existing house and consists of three bedrooms, two bathrooms and a two-car garage with an open floor concept and full basement.

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


Dr. Mark Hornickel
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