In 2013, Montana State University, the state’s oldest and largest land-grant institution, joined the grassroots call from the Montana Grains Foundation, to bring a world-renowned scientist to the university who would help Montana grain growers remain competitive and sustainable through research tailored specifically for Montana’s current and future challenges in production agriculture. Together, Montana’s agricultural community and MSU challenged themselves to raise $5 million dollars in five years to bring a permanent endowed plant science chair to MSU.

In the first year, Montana farmers rallied together to invest $1 million from their own pockets. In the following two years, an additional $1.8 million was raised from Montana producers and agribusiness, followed by longtime MSU alumnus and supporter Norm Asbjornson, gifting the endowment $2 million in 2017.

The chair has since grown into a vision for expanding statewide support for Montana’s grain growers with the help of MSU faculty and the Montana Grains Foundation, Montana Wheat and Barley CommitteeMontana Grain Growers Association, and a multitude of agribusinesses and grain producers to permanently endow the first dedicated plant sciences chair, the Winifred Asbjornson Plant Sciences Chair, on behalf of Montana agriculture.