A University of Idaho campaign to create a dynamic new meat science center advanced another major step thanks to a $1 million gift from the Laura Moore Cunningham Foundation.
The Agri Beef Meat Science & Innovation Center Honoring Ron Richard will expand educational opportunities for students and animal processing on the University of Idaho's Moscow, Ida., campus, the university said in an announcement.
The Laura Moore Cunningham Foundation is dedicated to advancing projects to benefit Idaho. Foundation president Harry Bettis is a lifelong cattle rancher in southwestern Idaho.
“The best lessons I learned were through working. We’re excited to help students learn about real, practical things through on-the-job training and to provide new opportunities to students and the industry,” Bettis said.
University president Scott Green said, “The Laura Moore Cunningham Foundation has been a longtime partner of the [University of Idaho] and has shown tremendous commitment to higher education in the state. Their support of this project will ensure the continued development of Idaho’s workforce and positively impact the state’s cattle industry for years to come."
The University of Idaho College of Agricultural & Life Sciences (CALS) plans to build a state-of-the-art facility to house its meat science program and the Vandal Brand Meats retail operation. In April, Boise, Ida.-based Agri Beef, one of Idaho’s best-known integrated meat processors, donated $2 million to the project.
Other major donors, including Northwest Farm Credit Services, have also contributed to the project. The Laura Moore Cunningham Foundation’s gift moves the project past the halfway mark toward the $8 million goal.
In addition to providing one of north-central Idaho’s few federally inspected livestock processing facilities, Vandal Brand Meats provides dozens of students with on-the-job experience each year, the university said.
Vandal Brand Meats also sells cuts of beef and pork and processed meats.
The new meat science facility and retail center honors Ron Richard, who led the development of Vandal Brand Meats during his 30-year career with CALS, the university said. His vision is reflected in the design of this new facility. Richard died in the fall of 2018 as plans to begin a fundraising campaign for the project were formalized.