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U of I Receives $1 Million Gift to Support New Meat Science Facility

October 02, 2019

MOSCOW, Idaho — Oct. 2, 2019 — 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 and Innovation Center Honoring Ron Richard will expand educational opportunities for students and animal processing on the U of I Moscow campus.

The Laura Moore Cunningham Foundation is dedicated to advancing projects to benefit Idaho. President of the foundation, 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.

“The Laura Moore Cunningham Foundation has been a long-time partner of the U of I 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,” said U of I President Scott Green.

The U of I College of Agricultural and 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-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 over 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.

Vandal Brand Meats also sells cuts of beef and pork and processed meats including Vandal Franks, a staple of U of I football games.

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. His vision is reflected in the design of this new facility. Richard died in fall 2018 as plans to begin a fundraising campaign for the project were formalized.

Media Contact

Carly Schoepflin
Director, Communications and Strategic Initiatives
College of Agricultural and Life Sciences

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The University of Idaho, home of the Vandals, is Idaho’s land-grant, national research university. From its residential campus in Moscow, U of I serves the state of Idaho through educational centers in Boise, Coeur d’Alene and Idaho Falls, nine research and Extension centers, plus Extension offices in 42 counties. Home to nearly 12,000 students statewide, U of I is a leader in student-centered learning and excels at interdisciplinary research, service to businesses and communities, and in advancing diversity, citizenship and global outreach. U of I competes in the Big Sky and Western Athletic conferences. Learn more at