Ag College awarded $1.75M grant

Sarah Thiele

The ISU College of Agriculture and Life Sciences will be soon be able to enhance its entrepreneurship program after a

$1.75 million private donation from Bruce Rastetter, CEO of Hawkeye Renewables, an ethanol production company he

co-founded in 2003.

The gift was made through the Rastetter Foundation and will provide funding to help endow a professorship for the entrepreneurship program in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

“I think this will be a great addition to some of the educational experiences we can provide,” said Brian Meyer, program director for agricultural communications. “The gift from Bruce Rastetter will help us endow a faculty position that will focus more on helping students look into new ideas and take the next step towards maybe a business or opportunity that they otherwise might not have been able to.”

Meyer said the entrepreneurship program was established just over two years ago to help students and faculty become more interested and trained in entrepreneurship.

“The main goal of the Ag Entrepreneurship Initiative is to really foster the entrepreneurial spirit within our undergrad and graduate students, to give them the tools that they need and build the skills that they need to be successful entrepreneurs and also just successful in their future ag careers,” said Stacey Noe, program coordinator for economics-agriculture and life sciences.

The additional money will be used to help support student programs that spark an interest in entrepreneurship and research.

“We have an undergraduate internship program that is growing every year and that’s a great experience for students,” Noe said.

“This will really support our student programs, and that’s the goal for the initiative: to develop programs for the students.”

Meyer said the money would be used to renovate space in Curtiss Hall to house the program. At this point there is no timeline set for the work to begin.

The donor, Rastetter, has been involved in agriculture his entire life and started Heartland Pork, which has grown into one of the largest hog producers in the United States.

Nick Ryan, public relations officer for Hawkeye Renewables, said Rastetter hopes that the program can grow and become a model program for advancing agricultural entrepreneurship in the nation.

“His life’s work is really centered around agricultural entrepreneurship,” Ryan said. “He’s a big believer in the program that they have at Iowa State and wants to do everything he can to help.”