TWIN FALLS, Idaho (News Release) – College of Southern Idaho students who are seeking an agriculture-related degree, including a few who may not have even been born yet, have a new friend.

Bob Dickenson has donated $1.6 million to the CSI Foundation with the stipulation that it all be used for financial assistance to students pursuing agriculture degrees. It’s one of the largest gifts the college has ever received.

Debra Wilson, CSI Foundation Executive Director, says Dickenson was impressed with CSI’s ag program when she met him in 2012. He began making major gifts to the Foundation at that time, instructing CSI to award all of the funds to students currently enrolled in ag programs.

As his partnership and friendship with the college grew over the next five years, he chose to establish a trust that would continue to benefit students at CSI after his death. What makes this gift unusual, said Wilson, is that Mr. Dickenson wants the entire amount, plus interest, to be distributed to students. Many donors choose to provide endowments, which means the Foundation is allowed to use only the interest earned and not the original gift itself.

“Bob said he didn’t want a building named for him or any other honor,” said Wilson. “He just wanted his money to go to students for the next 20 years. Including anticipated interest over the life of the donation, the Dickenson gift will provide a total of approximately $2.5 million, or more through scholarship disbursements of $128-thousand per year to ag degree-seeking students.”

CSI’s Ag Department Chair, Barry Pate, is working with the Foundation to create long-standing strategies to recruit and help ag students over the next 20 years. “We have never had an opportunity like this. We would like to set up some competitive scholarship opportunities that are tied to students’ financial needs as well as to student leadership training and other activities,” said Pate.

Dickenson died in 2016. He and his wife, Ellie, were longtime ranchers from the Reno, Nevada area. In addition to the gift to CSI, the Bob and Ellie Dickenson Trust also provides a similar amount to the University of Nevada, Reno, for graduate-level agriculture degrees.

The College of Southern Idaho was founded as a comprehensive community college with a strong connection to the community’s agriculture base, said CSI instructional dean and former ag department chair Terry Patterson.

“It seem fitting that this very generous gift target students seeking agriculture education pathways. Mr. Dickenson obviously recognized the quality of our Agriculture Department and trusted the CSI Foundation to further help student with his gift,”

Students who are considering pursuing higher education in any of the agriculture programs offered at CSI are invited to contact Barry Pate at 208-732-6415 or at

Source: College of Southern Idaho

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