Colorado FFA Foundation executive director departs for role at CSU

Long-time executive director for the Colorado FFA Foundation, Don Thorn, will depart the organization in early July. Thorn will continue to serve the next generation of agriculture leaders in his new position as the manager of External Relations — Rural Colorado for Colorado State University.

“We are grateful for Don’s 14 years of dedicated service to the Colorado FFA Foundation,” said Foundation BoardPresident Glenda Mostek. “He grew the foundation from a small organization to one that makes significant impacts on the lives of FFA members, and agricultural education instructors throughout Colorado. We are sad to see him leave his post but know he will continue to do great things for agriculture in Colorado.”

Thorn leaves a lasting impression on the Colorado FFA Foundation for decades to come. Highlights of Thorn’s illustrious tenure with the organization include:

  • Leading the fundraising for The CoBank Center for Agricultural Education on the CSU ARDEC campus
  • Acquisition of the Lewis Heritage Farm, in Berthoud, Colo., to be a hands-on learning center for youth around Colorado.
  • Acquisition of Kobilan Ranch in Calhan, Colo., which will be used for educational purposes for the public, with a focus on youth, as well as FFA members.
  • Established an endowment to fund multiple initiatives including Local Teacher Success, a program designed to mentor agricultural education instructors early in their careers, with the goal to retain a higher percentage of first, second and third year FFA teachers in the classroom. 

A search for the next executive director of the Colorado FFA Foundation will begin immediately, chaired by Board President Mostek. Details about the position and to apply will be available soon at

Kouba presented 2023 David J. Mugler Teaching Award

Joann Kouba, Kansas State University associate professor, was recently recognized with the College of Agriculture David J. Mugler Teaching Award. Kouba joined the K-State Animal Sciences & Industry faculty in 2001 after completing her doctorate at Texas A&M University.  

Kouba has extensive involvement with her students through her 80% teaching appointment. She has taught 12 different on-campus courses and two online courses, involving more than 3,880 students, and she has advised nearly 1,100 students. She has also mentored graduate students pursuing advanced degrees with an emphasis in equine reproductive physiology.  

“Dr. Kouba is committed to student success both on-and-off campus. A prime example of this is the time she spends providing excellent advising to many ASI students. Her advising skills and commitment is reflected each year in the exceptional ratings and comments she receives on her advising survey,” said Mike Day, KSU ASI department head.  

Kouba believes strongly in enhancing students educational experience through study abroad trips. She has led three equine study tours, visiting England, Scotland, Ireland, Spain, Portugal and Morocco. Kouba’s research program focuses on understanding how reproduction is controlled in the horse as well as the interaction between nutrition and reproductive function. 

The David Mugler Teaching Award was established in 1999 by the College of Agriculture Alumni Board to recognize Mugler’s many years of dedicated service to students in the K-State College of Agriculture.  

K-State students participate in undergraduate research symposium

Twenty-Four undergraduate students presented research posters during the Kansas State University Animal Sciences and Industry Undergraduate Research Symposium on Friday, May 5. The symposium, hosted at the Stanley Stout Center, highlighted ASI undergraduate research for the spring 2023 semester. 

The Dr. Mark and Kim Young Undergraduate Research Fund in Animal Sciences and Industry sponsored this year’s symposium and the Undergraduate Research Awards distributed during the event. 

Three students were awarded $1,000 scholarships based on a combination of their scientific abstract, poster and presentation of data. Winning the scholarships were: Maycie Sanders, Wichita, Kan.; Sarah Waters, Austin, Texas; and Macie Weigand, Monona, Iowa. 

Undergraduate research is an opportunity to perform in-depth study, gain transferable skills, develop critical thinking and problem-solving abilities, define academic and professional interests, and form relationships with mentors, professors, and other students. The program gives students the opportunity to work with ASI faculty and graduate students on a project that is rewarding and helps them prepare for their next goals. 

Undergraduate research helps students understand the value and constraints of data. Whether they go on to graduate school, return to the ranch, or venture into industry, these students will use data every day to make decisions. An undergraduate research experience helps them understand how to value data during the decision-making process and will help make them more successful animal scientists. 

Undergraduates interested in learning more about the ASI research program, or those interested in sponsoring the program, can contact Jessie Vipham, coordinator of undergraduate research, at (785) 532-3486 or

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