Lincoln, Neb. —Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is built on the legendary, midwestern work ethic its students embody.
Engler students recognize and appreciate hard work – including that of the construction workers renovating the C.Y. Thompson Library, the future home of the program. Engler students recently showed their appreciation by serving the C.Y. Thompson construction crew cookies, ice cream and heartfelt thanks.
“This is an opportunity for us to demonstrate our culture and it’s also an opportunity to demonstrate to students that when you build a company, you value your people across the spectrum of your organization,” said Tom Field, Paul Engler Chair of Agribusiness Entrepreneurship and Director of the Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program.
“If you approach everything with a true sense of servant leadership and a true sense of purpose, you will in fact, create remarkable organizations.”
The Engler program’s unique culture begins with its founder, Paul Engler, Field said.
“Paul Engler built the largest cattle feeding enterprise in the world in Cactus Feeders. Then it became an employee-owned company. That’s a big deal,” Field said.
Paul Engler appreciated innovation and old-fashioned hard work, and Field works to instill the value of both into students who participate in the program. Today, the Engler program encourages students to understand their skills and purpose as well as to be bold in whatever they pursue, which often includes entrepreneurship.
One of the many students who has been impacted by the Engler program is Kelli Mashino, a senior agricultural and environmental communications major, 2020 Engler executive member and host of Engler’s podcast, “The Engler Journey.”
“While I don’t own my own business, Engler has helped me own aspects of my life so that’s been phenomenal. I’ve loved my journey so far,” Mashino said.
Mashino was one of the students who served cookies and ice cream to the construction workers and had the opportunity to thank them for their talents in building the new space.
“It’s really been awesome to look into their eyes and say, ‘thank you for building our home.’ I don’t think they realize the lives that are going to be changed out of that building and the enterprises that are going to be built and the people that are going to start owning who they are because of that building,” she said.
Mashino joined Engler as a freshman in college because her older sisters had, but it wasn’t until her junior year that she felt like she called it her own.
“I found who I was in Miller Hall, but I’m excited to see students grow in the new space. It’s like there’s just more opportunity to discover who you are in the new space,” Mashino said.
Mashino said the construction workers are building the heart of Engler in the new space, but the depth and core of what and who Engler is will not change, but rather grow stronger as relationships between students and staff grow.
“They are building our values. That’s where our home is and where our culture is going to continue to thrive. We see it as more than just four walls being built over there and we want to honor that.”
Engler students and staff hope to move into their new home on the 2nd floor of the Dinsdale Family Learning Commons, in early 2021.
The Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program is a unique opportunity designed to empower enterprise builders. Students across the University of Nebraska Lincoln are pursuing the development of their entrepreneurial skills and capacity in the program. The Engler program began in 2010 with a $20 million gift over 10 years ago from the Paul F. and Virginia J. Engler Foundation. The purpose of the program is to identify students with the entrepreneurial drive and then foster the development of professional skills conducive to success in applying entrepreneurship in agriculture and agribusiness.
Natalie Jones | IANR Media