Donation marks the largest personal gift to an Alberta college
By Diego Flammini
Assistant Editor, North American Content
Olds College received a record donation of $16 million, allowing for the creation of the Werklund Agriculture Institute (WAI).
David Werklund, an Alberta, entrepreneur and philanthropist, along with his partner Susan Norman, donated the money to help create a centre specializing in smart agriculture at the school.
“We decided to go out and meet with (Olds College president) Dr. Tom Thompson and share this vision that I had for quite a few years of how we would be able to contribute to our community through agriculture and through farming,” Werklund said in a video.
Werklund was looking for a way to bring his vision of tomorrow’s leaders coming from agriculture, to life, Thompson said in the video.
Werklund grew up on an Alberta farm. He credits his rural upbringing for instilling “a solid work ethic, (promoting) a strong foundation of core values, and (nurturing) an appreciation for protecting the environment," he says on his website.
The WAI will feature four main components:
- Werklund Growth Centre – will provide a hub for companies, entrepreneurs, investors and students to access Olds College land and facilities for development, scale up and demonstration of Smart Agriculture technologies, products and services.
- Thought Leader in Smart Agriculture and Sustainability – a unique, fully endowed industry leader. They will serve as a connector and advisor on smart agriculture technology, innovation and business for accelerating company growth and access to capital.
- A Producer Mentor Program - a year-long partnership with producers and agriculture industry leaders will expose students to Smart Agriculture practices.
- Olds College Agriculture and Food Enterprise – a vertically-integrated “gate to plate” agriculture and food learning enterprise where students engage in business decision-making and management.
Farms.com has reached out to current students at Olds College to learn their reactions to the donation and how it could improve their ag education.