In uncertain times, donors help build a hopeful future

First-year University of Alberta student Cassidy Clisby grew up in the city, but during Reading Week last November, she got up early to feed cattle and collect chicken eggs before she helped conduct her first-ever post-mortem on a calf, learning how to make incisions and remove organs.

It’s not exactly what you’d expect as a typical school day at UAlberta, but Clisby was participating in the donor-funded Mini-Internship Program offered through the Faculty of Agricultural, Life & Environmental Sciences. The program provides students with three days of hands-on learning at food, agriculture and environmental organizations such as hatcheries, distilleries and feed manufacturers.

Agriculture is a $13.6 billion dollar industry in Alberta, making it an important part of the province’s economy. However, most UAlberta agriculture students today come from urban backgrounds and find it difficult to break into the agri-food sector without practical experience.

That’s why UAlberta alumnus Jim Lockhart began supporting the program. After a successful career in agriculture, he felt compelled to help urban students get hands-on experience to supplement their classroom learning. He also encouraged his friend and fellow agriculture alumnus, Leighton Mellemstrand, who eagerly jumped on board as a donor.

Their generosity is helping students develop the practical skills that could eventually help them land their dream job. For Clisby, that job is working as a large animal veterinarian. 

“Being able to do the mini-internship — being able to touch, see, listen — proved to me that this is exactly what I want to do,” she said.

The internship program is just one the many ways UAlberta donors support students, research and facilities. More examples of generosity and impact are highlighted in the university’s 2020 Donor Impact Report. Released this week, it shares how donations to UAlberta help improve the lives of Albertans and people around the world. 

Supporting people and projects

And, while donor funds provide unique learning opportunities, they also support students through scholarships and bursaries, helping more than 3,400 undergraduate students.

One alum’s generosity provides scholarships for student athletes to excel in the classroom and on the court, preparing them for successful careers.

Donations also allow for the creation of new initiatives, such as a new mobile grocery store in Edmonton. The program, Fresh Routes, brings healthy options to people who struggle to access nutritious food, investing in strong neighbourhoods and healthy Albertans.

“Donor generosity creates the positive change we need,” said David Turpin, president of the university. “Recent extraordinary events around the world and close to home show how interconnected we are — and how collective action is needed to tackle global challenges. Because of donors, our students, researchers and partners will be at the forefront of this work.”

Donations and impact

$90 million for research
Donors advanced research, innovation and discovery, and helped attract talented faculty.

$37 million for programs
Donors enhanced teaching, experiential learning and student research opportunities.

$18 million for student awards
Donors reduced financial barriers for students and helped them achieve their potential.

$5 million for facilities
Donors transformed campus through new and enhanced buildings, labs, libraries and learning spaces.