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Alumni-Led Corporation LEAVES LASTING LEGACY BIRKO, A COLORADO COMPANY whose leaders have strong connections to the College of Agricultural Sciences and Colorado State University, has decided to give back and further solidify its multigenerational legacy by naming a space in the newly renovated Animal Sciences Building. Birko is a food safety company that focuses on solutions for the meat, produce, and brewery industries. Among its many services, Birko provides safe chemical formulations, state-of-the-art harvest and dispensing equipment, servicing capabilities, and integrated IT solutions for beef, poultry, pork, produce, and brewery applications. In an industry dominated by male-led organizations, Birko is one of the few female-led companies in the food safety sector. Kelly Green is the owner and chairman of the board. Green, CSU M.B.A. (’04), is a third-generation owner of Birko and a Colorado native, carrying on the vision for food safety started by her grandparents, Ward and Florence Smith. “It is an honor to have a partnership with CSU and the Department Animal Sciences as Mark and I are both alumni of the University. We feel strongly about supporting the food safety industry, and that includes supporting the up-and-coming leaders of tomorrow,” said Green. The connection between Birko and the Department of Animal Sciences is a natural one, as they both share a mutual interest in protecting public health and helping providing products and services that help promote sanitary food production. The company employs a number of CSU graduates as a part of its science and technical staff.

One CSU graduate is the company CEO, Mark Swanson, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural business (’86) and an M.B.A. (’04), both from CSU. In the last few years, Swanson has enhanced his connection to the College of Agricultural Sciences by serving as a member of the Dean’s Leadership Council, a small group of advisers to the dean and advocates for the college among industry and government. “CSU has laid the foundation for both Kelly and me to be where we are today with our careers. Our hope with Birko’s gift to CSU is that we can continue to increase food safety awareness as well as show our support of CSU as an institution,” said Swanson. Green and Swanson were instrumental in providing Birko’s generous gift, which will name a conference room in the glassed-in atrium of the Animal Sciences Building.

CSU has laid the foundation for both Kelly and me to be where we are today with our careers.

Mark Swanson, Birko CEO

“Gifts like these are about so much more than naming a room,” said Nick Lobejko, director of development for the College of Agricultural Sciences. “This gift is a tangible example of our commitment to maintaining and enhancing our connections to industry – connections that will advance our faculty research and ensure that the next generation of students has access to cutting-edge facilities.”

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Food for Thought 2014-2015  
Food for Thought 2014-2015