Rush family gift provides scholarship support for Ag Sciences students

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Students in the College of Agricultural Sciences who have a demonstrated financial need are the beneficiaries of a new scholarship endowment created by two Penn State alumni.

With a $50,000 gift, Jay and Joyce Rush, of Boalsburg, created the Jay V. and Joyce H. Rush Family Trustee Scholarship. Jay Rush graduated from the College of Agricultural Sciences in 1968 with a degree in agricultural mechanization, and Joyce Rush is a 1970 graduate of the College of Health and Human Development in consumer related studies.

The Trustee Matching Scholarship Program maximizes the impact of private giving while directing funds to students as quickly as possible, meeting the urgent need for scholarship support. For Trustee Scholarships created through the end of For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students on June 30, Penn State will provide an annual 10 percent match of the total pledge or gift.

This level is an increase from the program's original match of 5 percent, and it is available only for new endowments of $50,000 or more. The University match, which is approximately double the endowment's annual spendable income, continues in perpetuity, multiplying the support available for students with financial need.

"Education and agriculture have been cornerstones of the Rush family's professional and personal lives," the couple said in a statement. "One of the prime building blocks for three generations of our family has been Penn State and the College of Agricultural Sciences, with eight degrees awarded to date. It's our desire and belief that this scholarship will help students prepare for and excel in serving the agricultural needs of the future."

Jay Rush's father, John, began the family's Penn State tradition, earning a degree in poultry science in 1943. A World War II veteran, he taught agriculture to fellow veterans, operated a farm in Washington County and served on the local school board for more than 25 years.

Jay grew up on the family dairy and poultry farm in Washington County before earning his bachelor's degree from Penn State. After serving in the Army -- including a tour in Vietnam -- he managed the farm for a few years before starting a 26-year career with AgChoice Farm Credit, during which he earned an master of business administration degree from York College of Pennsylvania.

For several years, he represented AgChoice's scholarship program at the College of Agricultural Sciences' annual scholarship banquet.

"We saw how scholarships benefited both the donors and the student recipients, and that motivated us to create our own scholarship fund," the Rushes explained.

After receiving her bachelor's degree from Penn State, Joyce Rush worked in the education department at York College and managed the Agricultural Relations Committee for the York County Chamber of Commerce. She also served eight years on the board for the Spring Grove Area School District.

The Rushes' son, Dale, graduated from Penn State with a degree in forest science in 1995. His wife, Laurel (Paxton) Rush, earned a Penn State degree in agricultural and extension education with a minor in forest science. Dale's cousin, Kelly Hunnell, who was Laurel's college roommate, graduated with a degree in agricultural business management.

"Dale, Laurel and Kelly all began their studies at Penn State in other fields," the Rushes noted. "However, they eventually were drawn to the College of Agricultural Sciences, where they saw the wide range of academic programs offered and the rewarding career possibilities."

The Rushes' gift will help the College of Agricultural Sciences to achieve the goals of For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students. This University-wide effort is directed toward a shared vision of Penn State as the most comprehensive, student-centered research university in America.

The University is engaging Penn State's alumni and friends as partners in achieving six key objectives: ensuring student access and opportunity, enhancing honors education, enriching the student experience, building faculty strength and capacity, fostering discovery and creativity, and sustaining the University's tradition of quality. The campaign's top priority is keeping a Penn State degree affordable for students and families. The For the Future campaign is the most ambitious effort of its kind in Penn State's history, with the goal of securing $2 billion by 2014.

Jay and Joyce Rush (seated) posed with Shannon Gibbons, a food science major who received a Jay V. and Joyce H. Rush Family Trustee Scholarship. Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

Last Updated March 20, 2014