Nelson Loftus '58, '62g Forest Science, '66 Ph.D. Agronomy, and Brenda (Ward) Loftus '65g Higher Education

Why We Give

"We strongly subscribe to the idea that active students become active alumni. The opportunity to establish a scholarship annuity was a wise investment for our retirement years, as well as a wise investment in Penn State students."

Nelson's and Brenda's Story

Penn State alumni Nelson Loftus and Brenda (Ward) Loftus, who are long-time College of Agricultural Sciences supporters and active volunteers within the Penn State community, have made a lasting impact with their philanthropy. Having endowed three Penn State University scholarships, two of them for students of the College of Agricultural Sciences, the couple is continuing to find new ways to give - and helping others to do the same. In recent years, they have begun sponsoring the annual AgLive Tailgate, a fun and inspiring event, where our College's alumni can come together to raise funds for the Ag Alumni Society's Trustee Scholarship program.

Here, Nelson shares his and Brenda's story of why it means so much to them to support today's College of Agricultural Sciences students, and give back to the Penn State community …

When my great-grandfather Thomas Tweedale Craig enrolled at the Farmers High School, later to become Penn State, in 1859, he couldn't have known that almost 150 years later, I would be a graduate of the College of Agricultural Sciences and devoted Penn State Alum. I received my B.S. (Forest Science) in 1958, and met and married Brenda Ward while we were both graduate students here in the early 1960s (Nelson, '62 M.S., Forest Science and '66 PhD, Agronomy, and Brenda, '65 MEd, Higher Education). Our son, Andrew Ward Loftus, graduated in 1997 with a Music Education. Shortly thereafter, we retired from distinguished careers with U.S. Forest Service Research and the Fairfax County, Virginia Public School System and moved from the Washington, D.C., area to State College.

Creating a scholarship was a logical choice for a family with such strong ties to Penn State. We decided to make our first gift a celebration of a love that we share with our son: music. We were so pleased with what the School of Music had done for our son and, with our gift, the Loftus family is now a part of what the school does for other students. The scholarship, established during Penn State's Grand Destiny Campaign, honors not only our son, but also our parents, whose last names, Ward and Loftus, he shares.

Creating this scholarship strengthened our relationship with the University; it gave us a feeling of ownership. It also gave us the incentive to do more. Our next philanthropic undertaking was to establish the Nelson and Brenda Loftus Ag Advocate Leadership Award in the College of Agricultural Sciences. An endowment in Agriculture was a natural choice, given Nelson's 35-year career in the U.S. Forest Service and devotion to the College. We strongly subscribe to the idea that active students become active alumni and what better group of Ag Students to recognize than the Advocates. What a pleasure it is to have the awardee join us at the Penn Stater each fall for the College of Agricultural Sciences Scholarship Dinner!

As strong advocates and supporters of the College of Agricultural Sciences and in response to For the Future, The Campaign for Penn State Students, we decided to make an irrevocable commitment to endow an academic merit scholarship in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management, formerly the School of Forest Resources. This opportunity to establish an annuity was a wise investment for our retirement years as well as in Penn State students. Consideration for this scholarship will be given to all third and fourth year full-time undergraduate students pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Forest Science with an option in Forest Management.

The AgLive Tailgate and auction was initiated in 2006 to provide much-needed support for College of Ag Sciences Alumni Society programs and student scholarships. At that time we made a family commitment to support the Tailgate through the donation of items for both the live and silent auctions. In 2012, we joined industry and alumni donors with our first annual AgLive Sponsorship. These funds now go directly into the Ag Alumni Society's Endowed Trustee Scholarship. With our interest in supporting students, this was a "win-win" for us.

In addition to our philanthropy, we have volunteered our time and talents as active members of the Penn State Women's Volleyball Booster Club, Nittany Lion Club, State College Quarterback Club, Centre County Chapter of the Penn State Alumni Association, School of Forest Resources Alumni Group, and Mount Nittany Society. Nelson served as a Board Member and President of the College of Agricultural Sciences Alumni Society and two terms as an elected member of the Alumni Council. We have been long-term, Sustaining Life Members of the Penn State Alumni Association. Nelson was a volunteer member of the College's Development Council, and we worked as a husband and wife team in support of For the Future, The Campaign for Penn State Students.

We Are a Proud Penn State Family!

Office of Development and Alumni Relations


240 Agricultural Administration Building
University Park, PA 16802