For Ann Bruntz, a director of development at the University of Nebraska Foundation, the phrase "there is no place like Nebraska" is not just the first line in Nebraska's fight song. It's her reality, every day.
For one thing, in her job as a an NU Foundation liaison between the University's Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources (IANR) and people who want to contribute to IANR's and Nebraska's work and future, she travels the state a great deal.
"We're 500 miles wide," she said, a state with great agricultural, topographic and environmental diversity. Four major ecoregions exist in Nebraska, and those diverse four are similar to many areas across North America and in many developed and developing countries worldwide.
"Production agriculture is number one in Nebraska," Bruntz said, and agriculture is her passion. She and her husband are farmers and cattle feeders and part of one of Nebraska's small-town communities.
"There's going to be, by 2050, 9 billion people on this planet, and they need to eat," she said; IANR's research, teaching and extension education help Nebraskans and the world move forward to help feed this growing population.
The Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Institute, founded with a $50 million gift from the Robert B.
Daugherty Charitable Foundation, is committed to helping the world use its limited freshwater resources efficiently, and focuses on ensuring the world's food supply for current and future generations. That's a great example of how donors' thoughtful and generous contributions make a difference for Nebraska and the world, Bruntz said.
Another is a $20 million gift from the Paul F. and Virginia J. Engler Foundation to establish a permanently endowed fund to support the Paul F. Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program.
"When Paul set up this gift, his passion was to light a fire in the belly of students for entrepreneurship, and especially agribusiness entrepreneurship," Bruntz said. Engler, who grew up in Nebraska and now lives in Texas, also cited his concern for the health of Nebraska's rural communities, a concern shared by IANR and many Nebraskans.
Funding makes projects come to life whether it's funding from a number of $25 gifts or those that are larger, Bruntz said.
"When it comes from the heart," she said, "it's important."
Bruntz said her passion for fundraising comes from her love of Nebraska, and she sees a passion to give back, to pay it forward, in every contributor.
In this part of the country's heartland, she said, it's the people she works with who supply the heart.
"I've worked at the University of Nebraska Foundation for six years," Bruntz said. "The motivation to get up and
drive and do what I do is the joy and the passion I see from the alumni and the constituents."
This story is based on an interview conducted with Ann Bruntz by William Whited
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