Last Modified:

May 15, 1998


By Heather Piehl

UW-RF News Bureau

Christmas has come early for students in the UW-River Falls College of Agriculture, Food & Environmental Sciences. The college has received two large money donations totaling an estimated $360,000 that will be used to create scholarships.

The first donation was a bequest from Irving Gerhardt, who passed away in July of 1996. Gerhardt was a lifelong agriculture instructor who taught in the southern part of Wisconsin and lived in Madison.

The donation of over $1 million is to be divided between UW-Platteville, UW-Stevens Point, UW-Madison and UW-River Falls. It is to be used for college students majoring in agriculture or conservation. Each university will determine the number of and value of scholarships to be created with their share, a little over $300,000.

UW-River Falls hopes to create several scholarships in the $1,000 range, according to Dean Gary Rohde, who became acquainted with Gerhardt in the late 70's.

"I remember he was a strong supporter of higher education. Apparently, he decided to leave a legacy of money for agriculture to help students go to college and to help them meet their financial obligations."

According to UW-RF Foundation President Charles Brictson, this is the second largest bequest ever received by UW-RF Foundation, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

The second donation to UW-RF was an endowment of $50,000 from Clarence and Bertha Kuschel. It is among one of the largest endowments the University has received, Brictson said.

The Kuschel agricultural scholarship fund will provide $2,500 in scholarships annually for students majoring in dairy science, agriculture education or production agriculture. According to Rohde, the endowment will create about three scholarships for amounts between $800-$1,000.

The Kuschels owned and operated a successful dairy farm outside of River Falls. Recently they sold their farm and moved into River Falls to retire. "They have been farmers all of their live and now they are anxious to support agriculture through the establishment of this scholarship fund" Brictson said.

Between the two donations, almost $20,000 in scholarship money will be available to students each year. Scholarships will be awarded for the 1999-2000 school year and the CAFES scholarship committee will determine how much they will be and who will receive them.

Rohde was very happy about the donations and said they came at a time when the college was beginning to fall behind a bit in the $800-$1000 range.

These scholarships are needed to stay competitive with other agriculture colleges.

"They are needed to provide incentives for students to come to River Falls, stay at River Falls and pursue a degree. These are important endowments that we received. It really gives us a shot in the arm," Rohde said.

"We could probably use a few more (donations). We would be interested in anyone who would like to add $1,000-or one semester's worth of tuition," Rohde said.

Those interested in donating should contact Rohde at 715/425-3841 or UW-River Falls, 210 Agriculture Science Building, 410 S. Third Street, River Falls, WI 54022.

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