Gift to research center in Clackamas County is largest ever
This past summer, another significant private donation came to the North Willamette Research and Extension Center, located in unincorporated Clackamas County's Aurora area.
Carl and Kim Casale, who live in Minnesota and farm locally, are providing more than $500,000 earmarked to remodel the downstairs laboratories in NWREC's main office building, bring an internet mesh network to the entire farm property, and develop a facilities master plan for the center.
"This is an unbelievable gift and couldn't have come at a better time for NWREC," said Mike Bondi, director of the center run by the OSU Extension Service. "We have been incredibly blessed over the past several years being able to make some much-needed infrastructure upgrades to improve our research and education capabilities thanks to college funding and private donations. But, the Casale gift is the largest private contribution we have ever received and will really help us build on this recent work, make additional important upgrades, and create a vision for the future of the center."
Bondi said he started working with the Casale family more than a year ago. At that time, Carl was restoring two vintage Allis-Chalmers tractors that were purchased by his father, Joe Jr., and his grandfather, Joe Sr., when Joe Jr. was starting in farming nearly 70 years ago. The Casale family had been vegetable farmers in the community for many years, and Carl was raised on the family farm just two miles from NWREC. Carl wanted to donate the tractors somewhere they'd be appreciated and used. That gift was made to NWREC and as a way to memorialize the close relationship of the family to the Research Center and to Oregon State University.
"We had further discussions, had the chance to get a closer look at NWREC, and see some of the work being done, and the facility needs," said Carl. "That's when Kim and I decided we'd like to make an investment that could make a difference and support the work being done at NWREC with our local farmers in the community."
The first step was working with a consultant to create a facilities master plan with a vision for infrastructure needs over the next 10-20 years. The Casales funded the development of this plan separately from their primary gift. The facilities plan was prepared last spring. Once the plan was complete, Carl and Kim selected two projects they wanted to fund — the downstairs lab remodel in the main office building and an internet network for the farm.
"With the new lab construction already underway in the Parker House, it seemed logical to Kim and me that the next step would be re-imagining the old and outdated labs in the basement of the main office. These lab upgrade projects will provide new capabilities for research, facilities for the NWREC faculty, and services to our farmers," Carl said. More detailed planning for the main office lab remodel will begin next spring with the new NWREC director.
"Internet access across the entire farm is something our faculty have been asking about for some time. The Casale gift will help make this possible, too," Bondi said. "We see the opportunity to be able to collect, monitor, and process data in the field, manage and monitor irrigation schedules, remotely, plus a variety of other data and field management activities."
Carl and Kim are both graduates of Oregon State University with degrees in agricultural economics. They met as freshmen at OSU. Carl's career includes work with Monsanto Company for many years — from sales representative to CFO. In addition, Carl was president and CEO for CHS, Inc. — a global agribusiness cooperative. He is currently a senior partner at Ospraie Management, LLC and is focused on identifying and investing in the next generation of agricultural production technologies. Kim has been connected to the field of biotechnology, too, throughout her career in the pharmaceutical industry. Together they manage their family farm — now all planted in blueberries — as well as other holdings in the Willamette Valley. The Casales have been actively involved over the years with the OSU Foundation and OSU Alumni Association.
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