Couple Honors Two A&M Professors with Endowments to Support Agriculture

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Robert and Doris Kensing of Menard County have created two generous charitable gift annuities and a bequest that will support students and faculty in Texas A&M University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. The endowments created through these gifts will be held at the Texas A&M Foundation and will honor the legacy of two Texas A&M agriculture professors: Tyrus R. Timm, a professor and former head of the agricultural economics department; and Fred Brison, a horticultural sciences professor.

 The Kensings designed the charitable gift annuities to provide them with fixed payments for life from the Foundation as well as a charitable deduction.

 The Kensings credit their success to hard work, wise investments and their Texas A&M degrees. “This university has been an influential part of our lives,” Doris Kensing said. “We wouldn’t have what we have without A&M.”

 Robert Kensing earned a bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics in 1960 and an agricultural education master’s degree in 1968. Doris, a graduate of Abilene Christian University, earned a master’s degree in education from Texas A&M in 1970.

 For 26 years, Robert Kensing worked in San Angelo as an economist for the Texas Cooperative Extension Service. He was active in the development and judging of pecan shows well into his 80s. He also was president of the Texas Extension Specialist Association, president and manager of the San Angelo Stock Show and Rodeo Association, and president of the Texas Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers Association.

 “I’ve had the opportunity to work with a lot of good coworkers and to make a lot of friends across a big part of the country,” he said. “Now the time is right to return our mentors’ gifts, which have had such a profound influence on our lives.” Early in her career, Doris Kensing worked as a bookkeeper and secretary before becoming an elementary school teacher in the Lake View School District (now part of the San Angelo Independent School District). 

 Now retired, the Kensings reside near Menard where they raise purebred Spanish meat goats.

 The Texas A&M Foundation is a private nonprofit organization that solicits and manages investments in Texas A&M academics and student leadership programs. For more information about charitable gift annuities or bequests, contact Glenn Pittsford at the Texas A&M Foundation at, (800) 392-3310 or (979) 845-8161.

Gen Y Already Giving Back

Allison Scott ’02

Many people think they need to wait to join a college development council until they’re in the middle of their careers. However, five former students who earned their bachelor’s degrees during the past decade are bringing their youthful energy to Texas A&M University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ development council.

The five – Allison Scott ’02, James Decker ’06, Shannon Lucas ’02, Meredith Neely ’02 and Tyler Graham ’06 – are part of a 109-member council that advises the vice chancellor and dean on agricultural issues and works to attract financial resources to enhance the college’s educational programs. Each member pays $1,000 in dues to serve on the council.

For Scott, joining the development council is a family tradition. “My dad, Bill Scott ’71, has been a long time member of the council,” said the chief of staff for Representative Lanham Lyle (R-Wichita Falls). “Having been a kid who ‘grew up’ in the council, I attended events and meetings with my parents. When I was a student at A&M, a few of my friends received scholarships that the council provided. I have always known what a great group of people belong to the council and joined as soon as I could.”

James Decker ’06

Decker, the newest member of the council, waited three years after completing lawschool before joining in 2012. “It was always in my mind to join ‘later in life,’ but I wasn’t quite sure when the timing would be right,” he said. “However, the Texas A&M Foundation’s development officers for the College of Ag have worked recently to get younger graduates involved and invested within the college’s fundraising programs. I thought that was a very worthwhile endeavor and I wanted to do my part to assist, both to help the college and to inspire my peers to do the same.”

Both describe the council members as being very committed to student success. “Being a member of the council, I’ve had the opportunity to meet other professionals who all want to see the students of College of Agriculture and Life Sciences succeed in class, in extra-curricular activities and internships, and on to graduation,” Scott said. “The council helps make all of these a possibility for students.”

This type of service also provides recent graduates with a way to say thanks to their alma mater. “Many of us have ambitions of giving back to the college at some point in the future, but you have to start somewhere,” Decker said. “The development council provides a great opportunity to take that leap and make a commitment. So many of us benefit from the development council’s efforts while in school, so it’s a very rewarding opportunity to pay that forward to future classes of Aggies involved in the same organizations I participated in.”

The Council focuses on supporting undergraduate students in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

You can support Texas A&M’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences by joining the development councilor with a gift to the Texas A&M Foundation.


Patrick Williams ’92, Director of Development, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences | (979) 845-8161 or (800) 392-3310

By: Dorian Martin

Aggie Rancher Supports 67 Scholarships

In gratitude for scholarship assistance he received 55 years ago, Allan A. Marburger ’60 is paying it forward through endowed scholarships totaling more than $1.7 million. His support provides scholarships for up to 67 Aggies each year.

You can support students in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences with a gift of an endowed scholarship to the Texas A&M Foundation. Contact the Texas A&M Foundation development staff in the college to learn more.

Farmers Fight

Farmers Fight, an Aggie-led movement promoting modern agriculture, is dedicated to reconnecting American society to the world of agriculture. Learn more about the Farmers Fight initiative.

Wu named Distinguished Professor | AgriLife Today

Dr. Wu

Researcher finding new discoveries in both human health, agriculture

Dr. WuCOLLEGE STATION – Dr. Guoyao Wu, a faculty member in the department of animal science, part of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Texas A&M University, has been named a Distinguished Professor.
Wu is one of five faculty members for 2012 who have received the title, which is bestowed in perpetuity and awarded to a maximum of five faculty members each year. A reception was held May 1 on the Texas A&M campus hosted by the Texas A&M Foundation.
Dr. Guoyao Wu, a faculty member in the Department of Animal Science, part of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Texas A&M University, has been named a Distinguished Professor.

“University Distinguished Professors represent the highest level of achievement for our faculty,” said Karan L. Watson, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. “Their scholarship will have a lasting impact on their respective fields of study for many generations to come, and it demonstrates to the world the high quality of scholarship underway at Texas A&M University.”
A Texas AgriLife Research Senior Faculty Fellow, Wu’s research crosses both agriculture and human health. One of his specific research areas has been functional amino acids. His discoveries relate to the essential role of amino acids and non-essentia

via Wu named Distinguished Professor | AgriLife Today.


Hesby Atrium dedicated at Texas A&M’s Kleberg Animal and Food Sciences Center

Overhead view of Hesby Atrium

overview of the new Hesby AtriumSeveral hundred faculty, former students and friends of the department of animal science took part in a dedication ceremony for the new Howard Hesby Student Atrium held recently at the Kleberg Animal and Food Sciences Center at Texas A&M University.

Kay Hesby, wife of the late Dr. Howard Hesby, gave reflections during a dedication ceremony recently for the new Howard Hesby Student Atrium at the Kleberg Animal and Food Sciences Center at Texas A&M University. (Texas AgriLife Communications photo by Blair Fannin)

Hesby was a professor in animal science at Texas A&M for 35 years and influenced more than 15,000 students as a teacher, advisor and mentor, said Dr. Russell Cross, professor and interim department head.

“One hundred percent of the construction has been paid by donations to the Hesby project,” Cross told attendees. “We’ve received $600,000 in cash and pledges, and we’ve got $400,000 more to go. It’s simply a beautiful space.”

Prior to his death in 2005, Hesby and others were working to provide animal science students a place to study in the Kleberg building after a renovation in 2004 removed the existing lounge.

The new space provides lounge chairs and sofas, tables and chairs, and a bar with stools for seating up to 100. New lighting and electrical plugs were installed throughout as well as five high-definition monitors for departmental news and announcements. The lobby wall was treated with a wood veneer and now displays plaques recognizing the top donors.

The project will continue with another phase of construction to the north side of the Kleberg building, which will feature a large trophy case, a bronze statue of Hesby and other improvements.
via Hesby Atrium dedicated at Texas A&M’s Kleberg Animal and Food Sciences Center.

See photos of the new space here.

A Lasting Impact | Texas A&M Foundation Blog

Angela and Dudley Smith stand in front of their tractor

Angela and Dudley Smith ’79 considered buying a tractor for their farm but ultimately put their money toward helping Aggies.

Angela and I are from farm families who place a high value on education. Our parents helped us in our undergraduate programs, and we received some financial support for our graduate degrees. We always wanted to return that favor by supporting Texas A&M students who were not academic superstars but were hardworking and from middle-income families.

Although we were financially secure for our retirement years, we did not have this kind of wealth but wanted to find a way to help Texas A&M students and Texas AgriLife Research programs. We weren’t sure how to do this with our level of resources. But we learned the Foundation has plans and programs that enable nearly anyone to enrich institutional programs. Here’s how our experience unfolded.

I frequently drove by a John Deere dealership on my way to my farm in rural Brazos County and one day noticed an almost-new tractor on their lot. I stopped to check the price. The tractor cost several thousand dollars, but we could afford it and it would look nice in our shed at Smith Farm.

The shiny new-looking tractor was a pleasant sight on the dealer’s lot but from a practical view, the tractor we already had would move hay bales, shred pastures, drill post holes and perform other ranch chores.

We started thinking about what would have a more lasting effect: a nicely painted depreciating asset or an endowment that would impact the lives of students. So instead of buying a newer tractor, we decided to spruce up the old one.

I called our Ag development office at Texas A&M for help planning endowments that would have a longer-lasting impact than a tractor. Without any pressure, they helped us set up two endowments.

We funded an Endowed Opportunity Award (EOA) with $25,000. This program helps an undergraduate from a rural area who may not have super academic records but has a strong work ethic and wants a degree from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

via A Lasting Impact | Texas A&M Foundation Blog.

Farming at the Forefront: $1.5 million Howard G. Buffett Foundation gift to fund project on conflict and development

Writer: Kathleen Phillips, Texas AgriLife CommunicationsNote: This article originally appeared in the Fall 2010 issue of Spirit Magazine, and is reposted on the College website by permission. Our thanks to our friends at the Texas A&M Foundation for this article. The complete issue is available here.After meeting halfway across the world in a country racked by war, two Americans realized they shared a dream: to help farmers patch up their land, produce better crops and
deliver them safely to hungry people.

When the U.S. military arranged for the pair to tour Afghan farms and meet with agriculture professors at an Afghan university in early 2010, they witnessed dire circumstances: Many Afghan farmers who knew how to grow food crops have been killed or fled during three decades of war. Agribusiness units of the U.S. military work to fill the void by teaching farmers in more than a dozen provinces how to improve irrigation, test soil and increase the yields of food crops ranging from potatoes to pomegranates.

Conflict-ridden countries need help
But the visiting civilians believe Afghanistan and other conflict-ridden countries need more help.

One of the Americans is Howard G. Buffett, eldest son of billionaire Warren Buffett and head of his name sake foundation that has supported global efforts in conservation and the human condition since 2000.

Passion to help people began with photography
An Illinois farmer, Howard Buffett developed his passion to help people through his interest in photography. “I started taking pictures of sunsets, moonrises and other parts of nature on our farm. And then as I traveled to check on conservation projects our foundation was supporting around the world, the pictures I took helped me realize that one of the biggest factors in the success of an effort was the condition of people
in that area.

“With people just trying to survive, they must use whatever is available, he added. “You can’t expect a starving person to save a tree. I knew I had to reevaluate what we were doing.”

The other American is Dr. Ed Price, who began his career in the Peace Corps in Malaysia, later was an economist for the Federal Reserve and now oversees agricultural outreach in some 40 countries as director of the Norman Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture, a joint program within Texas A&M AgriLife. “Our whole effort keys off what Dr. Borlaug was fond of saying—that peace cannot be built on empty stomachs,” Price said of the institute and Nobel laureate for whom it is named.  The late Dr. Norman Borlaug is considered to be the father of the Green Revolution for his work to end world hunger.

Impressed by knowledge and skill of Borlaug Institute
“When I listened to Ed, I was amazed by the breadth of knowledge and skill available through the Borlaug Institute,” Buffett said. “When I see people who’ve actually had their hands in the dirt, I know that’s how the answers will come, not by politicians and bureaucrats who’ve never been involved in agriculture.”

Shortly after returning to the United States, the men came to an agreement. The Howard G. Buffett Foundation in June 2010 gave $1.5 million to establish a teaching and research program that will explore how agriculture and natural resource management affect conflict.

Howard G. Buffett Foundation Chair in Conflict and Development
Part of the gift, made to the Texas A&M Foundation, will establish the Howard G. Buffett Foundation Chair in Conflict and Development in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and Texas AgriLife Research. The chair’s holder will lead research on the economic and social relationships at play in conflict-plagued nations. The goal is to enable countries to resolve and recover from conflict through the use of agriculture and natural resource management. The funds also will benefit programs and graduate student fellowships, with initial work in Afghanistan.

Buffett’s foundation also is building a separate agricultural facility for an Afghan university, which will then bring advanced technology to the nation’s farms.

Impact to be far beyond Afghanistan
But the impact of Buffett’s gift to Texas A&M will reach far beyond Afghanistan. According to the latest World Bank figures, 45 countries need such assistance: 34 of the world’s poorest countries and 11 middle-income countries—with a population of about 1 billion—were fragile or embroiled in conflict in October 2009.

The Borlaug Institute already works in agricultural development to alleviate hunger in many of those countries, including Iraq, Afghanistan, Southern Sudan, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, El Salvador and Guatemala. Buffett’s foundation has supported projects in some of the same places and in many other nations in the Americas, Africa, Europe and Asia.

Price said the Buffett Foundation gift will “inform policymakers and provide tools for development professionals to assist in the quick revitalization of countries plagued by conflict or, even better, to prevent conflict.”

Encouragement of son played a key role
Price and Buffett credit Howard’s son, Howard W. Buffett, for encouraging them to pursue “the broader topic of conflict rather than strictly agricultural production.”

“He said we need to learn from this project about how agricultural development is necessary for resolving conflict,” Price said of the younger Buffett, who previously worked at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and now is at the White House.

Through his foundation, Howard G. Buffett tackles high-risk projects. “You can bat 1,000 in this game if you want to do nothing important, or you’ll bat something less than that if you take on the really tough problems. I personally—and the foundation— take risks. It’s hard to get investment money for Afghanistan because of security, so I’m willing to try. After Ed and I talked, I thought our foundation could be a catalyst in getting something going in agriculture.”

Having the right partner is key to gaining the confidence to invest in conflict areas, he said. “To me, Dr. Borlaug is a real hero. So the ability to link up with the Borlaug Institute is a dream come true.”

For more information about how you can support the Borlaug Institute and other College of Agriculture and Life Sciences programs, contact:

Monica Delisa
Senior Director of Development
Texas A&M Foundation
(800) 392-3310 or (979) 847-9314

Norman Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture

Howard G. Buffett Foundation (Click on HGB Foundation.)

Top: Howard G. Buffett (center) and Dr. Ed Price (right), director of the Borlaug Institute, examine peanuts during a trip to Afghanistan.

Middle: The late Dr. Norman Borlaug received a Nobel Peace Prize for his work alleviating
world hunger.

Bottom: Beau Davis ’06 of the Borlaug Institute works with military agricultu
rists from the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Central Africa.