OSU faculty member and ag economics alumna support New Frontiers
Tuesday, May 24, 2022
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Not only are Rodney Jones and Karen Eifert Jones passionate about Oklahoma State University and the Ferguson College of Agriculture, they also are devoted to giving back.
The couple from Waukomis, Oklahoma, made the decision to become major gift donors for the New Frontiers campaign, which continues to raise funds to build a state-of-the-art teaching, research and Extension facility for OSU Agriculture.
“We have been very fortunate the last couple of years with better than normal crops, and we felt like the time was right to make a contribution to OSU and the New Frontiers campaign,” said Rodney, a professor in the OSU Department of Agricultural Economics. “The New Frontiers building struck a chord with me, especially teaching in outdated and inadequate facilities. Karen and I recognize the importance of modernizing the facilities.”
In addition to Rodney working at OSU, he and Karen also own a commodity grain farm in Garfield County.
“As farmers, we rely on OSU Ag Research, and we need to know they can get us the best product possible and not be limited by the facilities,” Karen said. “The three factions of the land-grant university — teaching, research and Extension — are each very important to both of us.”
As major gift donors, the Joneses had the opportunity to name a space in the new building and chose to name a faculty office close to the agricultural economics departmental suite.
Rodney said when they decided to donate to New Frontiers, it was not their plan to name anything as they didn’t want to bring attention to themselves. Instead, they chose to honor their families and focus on the future by naming an office Eifert-Jones Family Educating for Life.
“We both feel that even though research and Extension are very important, you’ve got to keep teaching,” Karen said. “You’ve got to keep that new crop of agriculturalists. Whether they are going to go farm like we do or go work for one of the companies we do business with or stay at OSU and do research, it all begins with teaching.”
When deciding on a name, the couple wanted to honor both the Jones and the Eifert family legacies. Karen, an OSU agricultural economics alumna, comes from a family of OSU graduates, including her dad and two of her sisters.
“We really wanted to accomplish honoring her family, especially her dad who passed away 17 years ago and was a proud OSU supporter,” Rodney said. “It was important that we honored the Eifert family name.”
Karen said they also wanted to honor their own children.
“We wanted to honor our families, but we really didn’t want it to be a memorial,” she said. “We wanted it to be forward thinking and looking at the impact the university has.”
Valuing lifelong education, whether it’s teaching, Extension or applied research, Rodney and Karen wanted to capture those aspects in the name.
“We wanted to plant the seed for anyone walking into the Eifert-Jones Family Educating for Life office and seeing that name,” Rodney said. “It was dedicated to encourage learning for a lifetime.”
Growing up in a small town, Karen said she felt that town told her who she was.
“When I came to OSU, the Ferguson College of Agriculture told me who I could be,” she said. “That’s what we want to do for other kids, to let them grow in that way and have the opportunity for them to do that.”
The Joneses admire OSU Agriculture Vice President and Dean Thomas G. Coon for his leadership and vision for the New Frontiers Agricultural Hall and wanted to encourage that leadership with their support.
The couple encourages others who are financially able to give to New Frontiers and the Ferguson College of Agriculture.
“Lots of small gifts add up to a big gift,” Rodney said. “There’s power in numbers, and you can still feel very good about doing something that leaves a legacy for future generations. I can assure you from watching students grow from a teaching standpoint, you can truly have a tremendous impact on a lot of lives by investing in something that furthers education.”
For more information, visit New Frontiers for campaign progress, construction updates and donor stories.
The New Frontiers campaign was launched in January 2020 to build a new state-of-the-art facility for OSU Agriculture. The New Frontiers Agricultural Hall, expected to open in fall 2024, further advances teaching, research and Extension efforts that are critical to the state’s economy, citizens’ safety and quality of life. By advancing OSU Agriculture and its programs, New Frontiers is fostering innovation to help feed the world.