Largest single gift in USU history paves way for Bastian Agricultural Center in Salt Lake County

President Noelle Cockett congratulates sisters Mary Bastian and Emily Markham while others look on at the signing

As more of Utah’s agricultural land is converted to commercial and residential developments, one family has made a gift of $41.25 million to Utah State University to honor and preserve the state’s farming past, present, and future. This gift represents the largest single donation in USU history.

The Bastian family, in concert with USU Extension, has founded the Bastian Agricultural Center, which will be dedicated to educating the public about contemporary agriculture and inspiring future generations through education and programs in science, engineering and technology applied to agriculture. The center will be located at the Salt Lake County Equestrian Park and Event Center in South Jordan. The Bastian family previously gave an additional $6 million toward the initial creation of the center.

So many people came together to make this transformational gift possible,” said USU President Noelle E. Cockett. “The friendship and partnership with the Bastian family sets USU on the path to achieving excellence among national universities and provides a foundation for outreach focused on agricultural sustainability and food security that impacts the health and well-being of Utah citizens.”

The goal of the USU Bastian Agricultural Center is to provide information and experiences to an increasingly urban population, including adults and 4-H youth, local government, constituents, and corporate leaders. The center will provide a space to share the most recent agricultural knowledge, technologies, and manufacturing methods, as well as a place to discover better products and processes.

Ken White, USU Extension vice president, said the education provided at the center will impact many generations and will provide an opportunity for people to fully understand where their food comes from through applied learning. It will serve the educational needs of all ages, but especially the growing, younger population.

The Bastian family has a proud history of farming the land in the Salt Lake Valley for more than 75 years. Our hope is that the new facility will serve as a fitting tribute to their agricultural legacy by not only providing education and experiences, but also a sense of community for those who visit,” White said.

The center will include four major areas of focus – natural resources; science, technology, engineering and math (STEM); plant production and education; and equestrian, livestock and animal production.

Front row: President Noelle Cockett, sisters Mary Bastian and Emily Markham.
Back row: Jake Anderson and Mark Monson, family representatives.

The natural resources component will consist of a resource education center, amphitheater, wetland/ponds, educational trails, and youth activities. It will provide education to youth and the broader community about the value of nature.

The STEM center will serve as a location for 4-H youth and volunteers to gather for conferences, state contests, and other 4-H-related activities. It will also be a venue for community partners to hold conferences, team building events, and other group activities.

The plant production and education component will include an area for a farmers’ market, classroom/workshop space, greenhouses, demonstration gardens, orchards, and dry farm demonstration plots. Hands-on learning experiences will show how to best grow food as well as how to preserve and cook it.

Brad and Kyra Germann, Rockin Horse Photography

The equestrian, livestock, and animal production part of the center will continue to provide many of the current equestrian programs available in Salt Lake County and will also provide an avenue for youth from the urban population to experience animal production activities.

According to family representative Jake Anderson, the Bastian family hopes to preserve their heritage of farming in the Salt Lake Valley.

“Being a successful farmer requires determination, hard work, courage, and a great love of the land,” he said. “It also requires being a creator, an entrepreneur, and a scientist. These are all qualities that the Bastian family wishes to pass on for generations to come through the creation of the new Bastian Agricultural Center.”

For further information about the center, visit

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