Event to Recognize UTIA’s 50th Anniversary, Kick off a $175 Million Campaign, Honor Alumni

The University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture has lots to celebrate this fall. Please join us.


UTIA will hold its annual Ag Day Saturday, September 22, 2018, at the Brehm Animal Science Building on the agriculture campus in Knoxville, starting at 3 p.m., a few hours before kickoff of the Tennessee-Florida football game.


Ag Day is where farming, tailgating and Big Orange spirit come together – and a chance to welcome back friends and alumni. It is free to the public, and includes music, farm animals, free popcorn and ice cream, a delicious ribeye meal for purchase, an interactive social media wall, an insect petting zoo, departmental exhibits, and a visit from Vol mascot Smokey. People attending Ag Day may also receive a free, clear bag with a UTIA logo that can be used inside Neyland Stadium.


2018 marks UTIA’s 50th year, a milestone that will be recognized at Ag Day. In 1968, the UT Board of Trustees wanted to showcase the university’s statewide presence, and voted to create the Institute, combining UT Extension, UT AgResearch and the academic side, recently named the Herbert College of Agriculture, which is now starting its first-ever fall semester. The UT College of Veterinary Medicine was added a few years later, and the Institute as we know it today came into existence.


Ag Day 2018 also marks the public launch of UTIA’s most ambitious capital campaign ever. “Together We Grow” has a goal of raising $175 million from non-public sources to extend Real. Life. Solutions. to new generations. It is a ten-year campaign that began its silent phase in 2012, and will conclude in 2022.


“I think it is very fitting to launch the next fifty years with this sort of mindset,” said UTIA Chancellor Tim Cross. “We’ve had some incredible gifts recently and others that are expected that will really be transformational for the Institute.”


Ag Day will also include the presentation of the Institute’s Meritorious Service Award to longtime supporter Ed Carter, executive director of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. Carter has been with TWRA 46 years, serving as director since 2009. Carter has been a valuable partner to UTIA as part of the advisory council for Lone Oaks Farm, UTIA’s STEM education facility in West Tennessee. The Hawkins County native is also a graduate of the Herbert College of Agriculture with a B.S. in forestry and wildlife management.


If you like ice cream and southern charm, you’ll adore the Institute’s Horizon Award winner for 2018. Colleen Cruze Bhatti is a 2011 graduate of the Herbert College of Agriculture, and today helps her family run Cruze Dairy Farm in Knox County. Cruze Farm is known for marketing products across the state, including their own mozzarella cheese for an in-house pizza business. But their signature product is their soft serve ice cream, sold in downtown Knoxville and at a location on Asbury Road – always served by young ladies in red striped dresses with matching lipstick, a marketing strategy Cruze came up with to promote her family’s business.


The day also includes recognition of the UT Extension Tennessee Farmer of the Year – John Verell of Madison County. Together with his father and grandfather, Verell manages a 5,000-acre operation that includes soybeans, wheat and a corn crop that averaged 300 bushels per acre, roughly twice the national average. Verell is praised for his innovative management techniques, including installing wildlife food plots and buffer strips along streams, and for practices that reduce fertilizer and pesticide use. In October he will represent Tennessee at the Sunbelt Ag Expo in Moultrie, Georgia, in the Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year competition.


The University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture celebrates 50 years of excellence in providing Real. Life. Solutions. Through teaching, discovery and service. ag.tennessee.edu.