ACES Office of Advancement

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Donor encourages others to give back

Published October 5, 2015

Evelyn Brandt Thomas believes that if many people come together, even in a small way, to support a cause, the impact can be extensive. Co-owner and co-founder of BRANDT, she encourages others to join her in supporting 4-H, FFA and teaching young people about agriculture.

Growing up in Sangamon County, 4-H played a significant role in Evelyn’s life. In addition to her support of scholarships for 4-Hers, Evelyn contributes to the 4-H Feeding and Growing Our Communities program.

“Youth are learning where their food comes from and how to grow it in community gardens,” she said. “The kids are proud when they contribute to their community by growing food that is given to local food pantries.” She added that receiving notes from 4-H clubs around the state make each of her contributions worthwhile.

Gordon Thomas, Evelyn’s late husband, earned his degree in agronomy from the University of Illinois in 1950. When Evelyn and her brother Glen founded BRANDT in 1953, Gordon performed soil tests for their customers in the basement of their home.  “His degree in agronomy gave the company additional credibility,” Evelyn says. As a special tribute to Gordon’s professional contributions to the company, Evelyn provided a legacy gift in support of the Turner Hall renovation.

“As part of Gordon’s legacy, students in Crop Sciences and Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences will benefit from improved learning space for years to come,” says Marise Robbins-Forbes, Director of Advancement for the College of ACES.  

“I’ve been blessed, but also know where I came from,” Evelyn notes. “People have helped me along the way and I’m glad that I can make contributions that make a difference. I hope that the students I’m helping will pay it forward and do something for someone else down the road.”