Murray State College’s Dean of the School of Agriculture, Business and Occupational Technology Brian Cothran received the Chickasaw Nation Heart of Conservation Award for excellence in the field of natural resources.

“Dean Cothran was instrumental in the development of a $5 million U.S. Department of Agriculture Climate Smart grant awarded to the Chickasaw Nation and Murray State College,” said Kris Patton, Chickasaw Nation Director of Natural Resources. “Brian’s commitment to ensuring engagement by the next generation in sustainably managing our natural resources is a daily inspiration!”

The grant will provide $400,000 in agricultural scholarships and brings two new academic positions to Murray State College.  Murray State will provide training to rural, underserved students to become verified and/or engaged in sustainable farming practices. The program will also assist with improving watershed health and marketing local grown pecans.

“This grant helps us advance sustainable agricultural practice and education in a myriad of ways for our students and communities,” Cothran said. “We would not be successful without our partners at the Chickasaw Nation. They have been incredible advocates of these practices.”

The Climate Smart grant provides start-up funding for the Small Farm and Ranch Institute, which will be located on the Murray State College Ardmore campus.

“We are grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with the Chickasaw Nation on this grant to expand our agriculture program, and serve local farmers and special populations,” said Dr. Tim Faltyn, Murray State College President. “This program will strengthen Murray State’s academic programs and partnership with the Chickasaw Nation."