From the UConn Foundation's Our Moment newsletter (June-July 2012)
Patricia Jepson '78 '81 '06Agriculture and nature have been central to the personal and professional life of Patricia Jepson '78 '81 '06 from an early age.
A 20-plus year donor to the University, Jepson (member, UConn Alumni Association) is also the director of the Academic Advisory Center in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, a position she has held since 1988, and assistant professor in residence in the Neag School of Education. Her connection to nature and animals traces its way back to her childhood, as an active 4-H member and one of six children who all went on to work or study agriculture in some way.
As an undergraduate, Jepson was the first in her family to graduate from college, a goal that was supported by working at a veterinarian's office, a work-study position in Pathobiology, and a scholarship from The Grange. She feels that her UConn professors gave her an excellent view of the entire range of agriculture, which expanded her perspective and directed her toward the notion of teaching about it.
"My education was connected to the roots of animal science, but much broader," she says. "Like many people in our college, I first started with plans to become a veterinarian. UConn introduced me to new views of agriculture, from teaching high school agriculture to working with faculty and students on 4-H and extension projects; it was easy to see how much can be gained by looking at agriculture from a big picture perspective and working together."
Early in her career, Jepson didn't expect to be employed at the university level, but after advising thousands of students in the College through the years, she says that she enjoys how her role allows her to touch on many aspects of the college daily.
"In any given week, I could be interacting with high schools, or working with alumni, donors, or organizations that support agriculture. That's what keeps it so interesting. There is a sense of community that is so powerful within our college and our donors. Our faculty believes in what they do. The whole land grant philosophy, thinking about undergraduate and graduate teaching, research, outreach, and service is what education—and particularly what state-supported higher education—should be about, in my opinion."
Personally, she contributes to an incredibly wide range of funds through the UConn Foundation, from memorial and honorary funds of faculty and staff she has worked with, to agriculture and education. Donating to recognize and support others is one way she can give back in appreciation for individuals and organizations who have helped her over the years.
"I think that donating is an extension of what I do every day, but reaching out further than what I can do in my position," she says. "We're all so busy that there's a tendency to just focus on our own time and responsibilities, but giving allows us to look at the big picture of the organization we work for, making it more effective and benefiting more people."
When it came time to honor their own parents, Jepson and her siblings chose a fitting option: near the UConn Dairy Bar, a pair of benches bear their names. They are used year-round by campus faculty, staff, students and visitors stopping by to sample some of UConn's most well-known agricultural products.
The plaques on the benches read "May their love of land, animals, and nature live on through others," a statement reflecting how people can have a positive impact on others well beyond their employment and even beyond their lifetime.
To support the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, please contact the Foundation's development department.