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USU receives largest single gift in the school's history for new agricultural center

President Noelle Cockett, sisters Mary Bastian and Emily Markham. Back row: Jake Anderson and Mark Monson, family representatives.
President Noelle Cockett, sisters Mary Bastian and Emily Markham. Back row: Jake Anderson and Mark Monson, family representatives.

The Bastian family has been farming in the Salt Lake Valley for more than 75 years and they wish to pass on this legacy through their multi-million dollar donation to Utah State University for the creation of the USU Bastian Agricultural Center.

“As we see the expanse of our population in the state slowly and some places rather quickly, open land and farm land is quickly disappearing," said Jake Anderson, a spokesperson for the family. He says in addition to preserving farm land and open space, they also wish to pass on the qualities of a successful farmer.

“The hard work, the determination, the love of the land, and also being that entrepreneur and a scientist. That’s their main goal," said Anderson.

According to a January 12, 2022 USU news release, the Bastian Family in concert with USU Extension will be dedicated to educating the public in an increasingly urban population about contemporary agriculture and inspiring future generations, especially kids, through education and programs in science, engineering and technology applied to agriculture.

The USU Bastian center will have many components. It will provide a venue for a variety of activities such as state contests, 4-H activities and conferences but also a farmer’s market, greenhouses, workshop spaces, dry farm plots, and many other hands-on learning experiences.

According to Anderson, "it’s not just simply about being out on a tractor or being in your backyard and gardening in your backyard. That will also be showcased as well because that is absolutely vital. But there are so many other opportunities that many people probably do not know about and we are hoping to bring that to the people that come to the agricultural center."

The center will be located at the Salt Lake County Equestrian Park and Event Center in South Jordan. The Bastian family previously gave an additional six million dollars toward the development of the center.

Sheri's career in radio began at 7 years old in Los Angeles, California with a secret little radio tucked under her bed that she'd fall asleep with, while listening to The Dr. Demento Radio Show. She went on to produce the first science radio show in Utah in 1999 and has been reporting local, national and international stories ever since. After a stint as news director at KZYX on northern California's Lost Coast, she landed back at UPR in 2021.