In the past three years about 70 alumni, friends and organizations have donated more than $2 million to the Ag One Foundation to support Fresno State’s Livestock Judging Team. The first donor to this effort was alumnus, farmer and businessman Marvin Meyers. In recognition of Meyers’ commitment to the livestock judging program and students, University President Joseph I. Castro announced today that Fresno State’s team has been named the Meyers Livestock Judging Team.

“The livestock team offers a unique opportunity for our students to not only enhance their livestock evaluation skills but also to grow as public speakers and leaders,” Castro said. “It is a direct result of the vision and commitment of the Meyers family and our other donors that we can provide this experience to our students and continue this important tradition at Fresno State.”

Livestock judging has a long history at Fresno State, dating back more than 50 years. Several years ago budget cuts put the team at risk, but it was revived thanks to private donations. When Meyers learned that the University’s livestock judging team needed funding support in 2012, he provided a lead gift to establish a lasting revenue stream. “I’m pleased to support these young people,” Meyers said. “I’ve seen firsthand how livestock judging provides lifelong skills that will benefit the students professionally and personally throughout their lives.

Kristi Mattes, a 1976 graduate of the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology’s Agricultural Business Department, and her mother Luanne Silkwood, also contributed to support the team through their Silkwood Family Foundation. Mattes and her husband Jim, an alumnus and a former member of the Livestock Judging Team, remain active in the agricultural education community along with their two children.

“Fresno State is a part of my family’s history, as is agriculture,” Mattes said. “My husband and daughter represent the past and present in livestock judging. It’s a program that needs to continue enabling us to keep the brightest and best here in California to grow our agriculture industry along with their leadership.”

Last year the team appeared in events in Texas, Colorado and Arizona. In the first contest of 2016, the team placed second at the Arizona National Livestock Show in Phoenix. They placed seventh at the American Royal Livestock Show in Kansas City and ninth at the North American International Livestock Exposition in Louisville, Kentucky last year.

“We are so proud of our students’ achievements in livestock judging. This endowment will enable the team to reach new levels of success and continue to represent Fresno State on a national stage,” said Dr. Sandra Witte, interim dean of the Jordan College.

“It is a milestone day for Ag One to know that livestock judging will be part of the Jordan College for generations of students to come,” said Alcidia Freitas Gomes, executive director of Ag One and senior director of development at Fresno State. “We are grateful to Marvin Meyers, the Silkwood Foundation and all the donors who have made this possible.”