Share

Alumnus' gifts to support 4-H, Penn State Extension and agricultural engineering

Posted: October 18, 2017

Wayne Martenas '74 Ag Eng, a very active volunteer leader and philanthropic supporter of the College of Agricultural Sciences and Penn State Extension, along with his wife, Marian McKeegan Martenas, have pledged $250,000 in current and future gifts through their estate, to be divided among a new endowment, an existing endowment, a new building and an existing scholarship fund.
PHOTO: CARDONI

PHOTO: CARDONI

Wayne Martenas' first exposure to Penn State Extension came when he was just a boy.

"I was maybe five or six years old when our county agent, a man named Bob Houston, came out to the farm to help my dad," Martenas said. "He helped us lay out our fields into contour strips for strip farming, and I got to carry the little flags. He explained the purpose of everything he did, and it made a lot of sense to me."

That first encounter and many others on his family farm through the years, including 10 years as a 4-H youth, led Martenas to Penn State and ultimately a rewarding and successful career with Case New Holland, a global leader in designing, producing and selling agricultural and construction equipment, vehicles and more.

The first $100,000 of the Martenas' estate gift will create the Penn State 4-H Excellence Fund, a new endowment to support the organization Martenas credits with providing leadership skills that would serve him throughout his life and career. The 4-H Excellence Fund will enrich Pennsylvania 4-H programs throughout the commonwealth by supporting youth program development and enhancement, innovative program exploration, special-interest clubs, staff and youth travel expenses, 4-H student awards, professional development opportunities, and other initiatives.

An additional $100,000 from the Martenas' estate is designated for an existing endowment, the Penn State Extension Director's Excellence Fund, which provides general support for innovative program exploration and development, state-of-the-art equipment purchases, and other needs.

"Wayne and Marian's gift will contribute to the success of extension programming at the highest level," said Dennis Calvin, director of Penn State Extension and associate dean in the College of Agricultural Sciences. "It is very gratifying when someone who was influenced by the 4-H program is able to ensure its future through philanthropy. We are thankful they have chosen to invest in agricultural education, which makes a difference in the lives of so many Pennsylvanians."

Penn State's new Agricultural Engineering Building, slated for completion in spring 2018, will include "The Martenas Family Administrative Conference Room," thanks to an additional $30,000 from the Martenas' estate. The building houses the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering. Once complete, it will have expanded and improved spaces for students, faculty and researchers and will position the department as an international leader in providing research, education and outreach in the most critical sustainability issues facing the global community — food production, water quality and supply, energy, and biologically based materials.

The remaining $20,000 of the Martenas' gift will be added over the next three years to the Martenas Family Trustee Scholarship fund, established by Wayne and Marian Martenas in 2014 to support students in the College of Agricultural Sciences, with preference going to those majoring in biological engineering.

"Wayne Martenas' success demonstrates just how beneficial a strong agricultural and biological engineering program can be," said Paul Heinemann, professor and head of the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering. "This extends beyond Penn State to have significant implications for the economy, research and industry. We are deeply grateful for the family's contribution to this new project."

Wayne Martenas grew up on a farm near Bloomsburg. He attended classes at Penn State Hazleton before graduating from University Park with a bachelor's degree in agricultural engineering.

He held several positions during a long career at Case New Holland, working in company offices in Belgium, England, Canada, Chicago and Lancaster. He served as vice president of engineering, and later as vice president of security and facilities, before retiring in 2012. He and Marian live in Lititz and still maintain a small farm.

Martenas holds 17 U.S. and four European patents. In 2008, he received the Sid Olsen Engineering Executive of the Year Award from the Society of Automotive Engineers. In 2010, he was the recipient of the Outstanding Engineering Alumni Award at Penn State, and in 2013, he was the subject of an article in Penn State Ag Science Magazine.

Martenas serves as president of the Penn State Agricultural Council and president of the Lancaster County Cooperative Extension Association board of directors. He also is an active volunteer with the College of Agricultural Sciences' Development Council.

Wayne and Marian have two children, Kate Brosnan and Michael Martenas, both Penn State alumni. Marian also is a Penn State alumna, holding a juris doctor degree from Penn State Dickinson School of Law.

"As a volunteer leader, I believe it is important that Marian and I lead by example," said Martenas. "We both felt that by investing in the program, we would set a tone that would encourage others to help us meet the College of Ag Sciences' goals for the Greater Penn State campaign. The 4-H program and Penn State Extension have always been important in our lives, and we are happy to be able to support them."

Gifts from Penn State's alumni and friends have been essential to the success of the University's historic land-grant mission to serve the public good. To fulfill that mission for a new era of rapid change and global connections, the University has begun "A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence," a fast-paced campaign focused on the three key imperatives of a public university. Private support will keep the doors to higher education open and enable students to graduate on time and on track to success; create transformative experiences on Penn State campuses and around the globe that tap the full potential of Penn Staters to make a difference; and impact the world through discovery, innovation and entrepreneurship. To learn more, visit greaterpennstate.psu.edu.

Media Contacts: 

Susan Burlingame, sjb17@psu.edu
Work Phone: 814-867-3137
http://agsci.psu.edu/development

Chuck Gill, cdg5@psu.edu
Work Phone: 814-863-2713
Twitter Handle: @agsciences" target="_blank">
College of Agricultural Sciences