SDSU launches ‘Send a Cow to College’ campaign to fund new cow-calf unit |

SDSU launches ‘Send a Cow to College’ campaign to fund new cow-calf unit

Amanda Radke
for Tri-State Livestock News
The fundraising committee hopes more producers across the region will donate the proceeds of a cull cow to help finance a new cow/calf facility at SDSU. Photo by Amanda Radke

While ranchers might chuckle at the concept of “schooling” on their bovines, they should check out the “send a cow to college,” a new campaign at South Dakota State University (SDSU). The fundraiser will help to raise the cash needed for the new SDSU Cow-Calf Education and Research Facility.

The Send A Cow To College campaign kicked off on July 31, at the Mitchell Livestock Auction Market in Mitchell, S.D. The campaign was designed to involve cattle ranchers in the state, who can make a tax-free donation of a cull cow or group of cull cows to the SDSU Foundation to help make the new facility a reality.

The estimated cost of the facility is $4.1 million. About half of that total has already been raised, but more funding is still needed before ground can be broken at the building site. The current facility was built in the 1950s and after a fire burnt down the main barn last year, funds are needed more than ever to revitalize and revamp the old facilities.

Dave Barz, DVM, is one of the individuals who created Friends of SDSU, a group of businesses, pharmaceutical companies, South Dakota Stockgrowers Association members, South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association members and independent ranchers who are all working together to raise money for the facility.

“Agriculture education is so important, and we don’t want SDSU to fall behind. The research that will come out of that facility will be important going down the road, as well. We need to continue to support it.”
Lewis Bainbridge

“The kick-off in Mitchell is really exciting,” said Barz, who has helped facilitate the DakotaFest auction that has raised funds for the project over the last three years. “Our hope is to get public awareness of what needs to happen next to get the SDSU cow-calf unit off the ground. Send a Cow To College is a simple program. Bring a cow into your local salebarn and deed it over to the SDSU Foundation. The check then goes to the program. It can happen any day at any market. My goals for Mitchell for the year are to try and get 100 cows marketed through this program.” Barz said his statewide goal is for donations totalling 1,000 cows. The individual contributions will really add up, he said, and will go a long way toward the unit being functional, he said.

Donors at the kick-off auction included Bill and Carol Lingeman, raising $793.79; Corey Eich and Kelly Endorf raising $1,005.16; Bietz Farms raising $1,278.16; Cottonwood Farms/Don Threadgold raising $1,087.08; and Lewis, Charlene, Heidi, Matt, Neal and Tara Bainbridge, raising $4,112.63 on five lots. The total amount raised by all donors was $8,276.82.

The Bainbridge family’s donation of five cull cows were each donated in the name of separate family members, as all have an SDSU education under their belts.

“Our family has been blessed with SDSU educations, so it’s nice to do something with that opportunity,” said Lewis Bainbridge, who studied Plant Science.

The family of Jackrabbits all studied different subjects, but all are big SDSU fans. Wife Charlene studied English Education, Matt and Neal took up General Agriculture with agriculture business minors and daughter Heidi studied Family and Consumer Science at SDSU.

“We are trying to help get this cow-calf unit off the ground because we want to make sure the next set of students has the opportunity to have a great education,” added Bainbridge. “Agriculture education is so important, and we don’t want SDSU to fall behind. The research that will come out of that facility will be important going down the road, as well. We need to continue to support it.”

Whether an alumni of SDSU or not, Bainbridge said that this is important for all of the state’s beef producers.

“If you’re in the beef business, you should look at the cow-calf unit as a positive thing,” he stressed. “We are a large beef producing state, and in order to keep SDSU at a competitive level in education, research and extension, we need to support it. I want to make folks aware that this is needed.”

The next event to help support the SDSU cow-calf unit will be Aug. 22 at 1 p.m. at DakotaFest in Mitchell. All proceeds will benefit the new facility.

“Producers are investing in the future of the cow-calf business in the state and the future of their grandchildren,” said Barz. “Technologies increase rapidly in the cow-calf sector, and we are dealing with antiquated structures. We need to support this at SDSU.”

For more information on the Send a Cow to College campaign, contact Dave Barz at 605-491-2868; Cory Eich at 605-770-2058; Silvia Christen at 605-342-0429; Ty Eschenbaum at 605-203-1082; Mike Barber at the SDSU Foundation 605-321-6468; or Jim Krantz at 605-480-1056.

To learn more about the campaign, check out the website,

According to the South Dakota Department of Agriculture (SDDA), the beef industry is an important part of the state’s economy. South Dakota is fifth in the nation for number of beef calves born in 2012. Last year, 5.42 percent of the nation’s beef calves were born in the state. There are over 3.7 million beef cattle and calves located in South Dakota, where beef cattle outnumber people four to one. SDSU figures show that the annual economic impact of each beef cow in South Dakota equals $1,735 or $2.9 billion in total economic impact for the state. Half of the state’s 31,800 farms raise beef cattle. s