The late cattle rancher Russell Rustici had a scientist’s passion for understanding the nuances of the rangelands on which he made his career.
He believed that ranching and rangeland conservation were intertwined, and that part of fostering a successful future for the cattle industry meant supporting organizations that worked to preserve these environments. Toward that end, Rustici was a major contributor to the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences during his life and beyond. Through his estate, he made one of the top 10 largest gifts during The Campaign for UC Davis.
“Russ believed in conservation of ranching and rangeland – which he saw as one and the same. And he saw the value in investment,” said Kenneth Tate, current holder of the Russell Rustici Endowed Specialist in Cooperative Extension in Rangeland Watershed Science.
In addition to the extension position, Rustici also endowed a chair position in the same field, which is currently held by Professor Randy Dahlgren. The chair position supports teaching, research, and outreach in the connections between range management, water quality, hydrology, and related ecosystem processes.
These endowments represent just a fraction of Rustici’s contributions to UC Davis. During the course of his life, he was an advocate for fellow cattle ranchers and their concerns, and he helped to develop a multi-disciplinary team of specialists at UC Davis and throughout the UC system to address rangeland issues into the future.
“No one of us could do alone what the combination of us can do together,” Tate said. “Thanks to the support of Mr. Rustici, we can bring unique approaches to the study of rangeland systems. And that cross pollination strengthens our collaborative research.”