Patricia Brundige, a generous benefactor and life-long supporter of Ohio State University Extension and Ohio 4-H youth development, received a national 2023 Friend of Extension Award from Epsilon Sigma Phi (ESP) at its annual conference in Billings, Montana. ESP is the largest organization of Extension professionals.
Brundige, of Dublin, Ohio, has been generous with her vision, talent, and funding to benefit The Ohio State University and especially the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES), home to OSU Extension with its offices in all 88 Ohio counties. An active volunteer, an engaged stakeholder, and a visionary donor with $11 million in support in the last several years, she is the biggest individual benefactor in the history of CFAES.
“Pat has had such an incredible impact on so many lives. I want to offer our sincerest congratulations on this very well-deserved national honor,” said Cathann A. Kress, CFAES dean and Ohio State vice president for agricultural administration. “She inspires us with her gentle humor, her quiet dedication, and her resolute commitment to our youth in all that she does.”
Raised as a 4-H member, Brundige never forgot her 4-H background as she studied home economics education at Ohio State and later, as she entered the food industry workforce in the 1960s. Together, she and her late husband, Thomas Brundige, operated a successful company called Total Ultimate Foods Inc., which provided premium dry mixes to the food service industry and became one of the leading manufacturers of dry food products.
Her many statewide 4-H contributions include the Nationwide & Ohio Farm Bureau 4-H Center, the state 4-H research endowment fund, the Sheep Achievement Award, Ohio State Fair clock trophies, and camp scholarships for Ohio Military Kids. She has also served nine years as a member of the Ohio 4-H Foundation Board from 2006 to 2014.
Perhaps her biggest legacy is the Kunz-Brundige Franklin County Extension Building, which is named after her parents and opened in 2019 thanks to her gifts. Built on CFAES’ Waterman Agricultural and Natural Resources Laboratory on Lane Avenue, it was the first building and catalyst in a planned transformation of Waterman, the university’s hub for teaching, research, and community engagement around food, health, agricultural production, and environmental sustainability.
“Pat is not just a generous benefactor with her monetary donations, but she is also a generous benefactor with her time and talents,” said Jacqueline Kirby Wilkins, former associate dean and director of OSU Extension, in her letter of support for the nomination. “Her impact goes well beyond her financial contributions to Ohio State as she has contributed thousands of hours of involvement affecting countless young lives. She enjoys the hands-on component of the Ohio 4-H youth development program and looks for ways to stay involved in an advisory role, being careful not to take leadership roles away from the youth.”
Not one to seek the limelight, Brundige quietly offers her support by simply being present and is often there when her helping hand is needed. She was recognized by Ohio State in 2020 when she received the Everett D. Reese Medal, the university’s highest honor, in recognition of her exceptional service.
“Pat has spent her life making an indelible impact on the lives of youth, parents, and other community members. She is a respected role model and a highly skilled leader,” Wilkins said. “Her integrity, professionalism, and passion for empowering youth and strengthening families is inspirational. She invests in the lives of youth with everything that she does.”
In 2022, she was honored with a Friend of Extension Award from the Ohio chapter of ESP for her outstanding support and personal involvement in Extension efforts and was Ohio’s nominee for the 2023 national award. She was one of four to receive the national award, winning the honor in the Lay Leader category.
Jacqueline Kirby Wilkins