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University dedicates Farm Bureau Foyer to the Future

By Sean Ellis

Idaho Farm Bureau Federation

MOSCOW, Idaho –  University of Idaho christened its “Idaho Farm Bureau Federation Foyer to the Future” May 22 during a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by UI faculty and IFBF employees.

IFBF and Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Co. of Idaho each donated $50,000 toward a project that updated the two main entrances, or foyers, in the university’s E.J. Iddings Agricultural Sciences Building, which houses the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences and is the most heavily trafficked area on campus.

One of the foyers is located outside of Room 106, which is the largest theater-style classroom on campus and used by the entire university.

While the classroom was renovated in 2014, the foyer was not and, according to UI officials, remained outdated compared to the updated classroom.

The second foyer is outside of the office of CALS Dean Michael Parrella and that renovation project was completed in January 2016.

Farm Bureau’s partnership with UI to upgrade the foyers was authorized by the IFBF and insurance company boards in 2015 and 2016 and called, University of Idaho “Inspiring Future Leaders in Idaho Agriculture.”

IFBF President Bryan Searle said Farm Bureau members recognize the important role UI plays in helping educate tomorrow’s leaders in the agricultural industry.

“Agriculture is the engine that pulls the economic train of Idaho,” he said. “Farm Bureau appreciates what the university does and was happy to help fund a project that will inspire future leaders in Idaho’s important agricultural industry.”

During the May 22 ribbon-cutting ceremony for the foyer outside of Room 106, Mary Kay McFadden, vice president for university advancement, said the foyers are utilized by all UI students.

“We just completed our commencement weekend and this place was hopping,” she said.

Besides providing an open and modernized space for students to congregate, the foyer updates include a commodities ticker featuring current agricultural markets and flat panel and interactive screens that include a directory, student club information and university news and events.

The foyer outside of Room 106 will include an antique tractor that will be renovated by UI students this fall.

Parrella said UI appreciates “the support of the Idaho Farm Bureau Federation to invest in our mission and by doing so, create a space where students can envision their place in the future of Idaho agriculture.”

“Your investment to help renovate this often-used space will provide great return not only for students in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, but also students from across campus who utilize the adjacent classroom,” he said.

Farm Bureau recognizes that UI’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences is the largest and most influential agricultural educator in the state, said IFBF CEO Rick Keller.

“Hundreds of our future leaders in agriculture and agribusiness will walk through that hall,” he said. “We want to let them know there is an organization out there that is fighting for agriculture.”

Keller also pointed out that IFBF’s roots include a partnership with UI’s county extension agents, who help inform people about current developments in the agricultural sector.

IFBF’s earliest documentation includes a newspaper article printed in 1918 about UI extension agents and 26 county Farm Bureaus teaming up to help fight a plague of destructive ground squirrels.

“The university’s county extension agents and Farm Bureau have developed together,” Keller said.

The ribbon cutting ceremony signifies the beginning of another century of University of Idaho and Idaho Farm Bureau Federation working together to better the lives of farmers and ranchers, he said.

McFadden acknowledged the close relationship that UI and Farm Bureau have had for the past century.

“You care about economic development and you care about education,” she said. “That’s exactly what the University of Idaho is about, too. That partnership that we share with you is made visible through this wonderful gift of yours to develop this gathering place.”