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March 21st, 2012
AMES, Iowa — A $2 million pledge from the owners and founders of Iowa Select Farms is the key step needed for construction to proceed on a new learning center for students at Iowa State University.
Jeff and Deb Hansen pledged $2 million to the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences for the project. On Wednesday, the Board of Regents, State of Iowa approved a request to name the facility in honor of the Hansens.
"We are so grateful to the Hansens for their generosity in making this facility a reality," said Wendy Wintersteen, Endowed Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. "Thanks to them, the Jeff and Deb Hansen Agriculture Student Learning Center will be an invaluable asset for students to sharpen their skills working with, caring for and learning about animals. It also will be a versatile, multipurpose resource accessible to students campus-wide and a place to showcase university activities to the community."
The center will be located on land south of campus now used by the Department of Animal Science's equine program. The facility will include an indoor 125-foot-by-250-foot arena with seating for 1,000 people, a set of classrooms and a conference room. The center will be used for courses, labs, training programs, student club and judging team activities, and public events.
"Deb and I are pleased to invest in the future of our state by supporting this project which will enhance teaching in animal sciences and agriculture," said Jeff Hansen. "This facility will provide an invaluable learning environment for young people for both coursework and extracurricular events that build tomorrow's leaders. The commitment toward construction of the Agriculture Student Learning Center makes a compelling statement about the promising futures in animal agriculture and many related fields."
Construction of the $7 million center will be funded entirely through private gifts. With the Hansens' gift, more than $6 million has been raised. The university expects groundbreaking to be scheduled this fall.
"The Jeff and Deb Hansen Agriculture Student Learning Center will be a much-needed, all-weather facility that will reinforce the learning experience for hundreds of students each year," said Maynard Hogberg, chair of the Department of Animal Science. "We envision the facility will be heavily used year-round, for teaching during the week and for student activities and outreach events on weekends and during the summer. We also see the center as a great venue for 4-H and FFA events and activities that welcomes the next generation of agricultural leaders."
Jeff and Deb Hansen are third-generation family farmers and pork producers. In 1992 they founded Iowa Select Farms, a pork production company headquartered in Iowa Falls, Iowa, which employs 1,000 people in 45 counties. The Hansens established the Deb and Jeff Hansen/Iowa Select Farms Foundation to provide ongoing support for community development and service by working with and through philanthropic organizations, particularly those that focus on childhood cancer, support for military families in Iowa and hunger relief.
Iowa Select Farms has long supported ISU research efforts by funding studies in animal nutrition, animal welfare and well-being and air quality. Company personnel have been guest speakers in ISU swine production courses. A gift by Jeff Hansen in 2006 established an endowed position in ISU's Department of Animal Science to support and coach student livestock judging teams, which have been a department tradition for more than a century.