Jim and Michelle Marderosian, owners of Bee Sweet Citrus in Fowler, have pledged $1.5 million to Cal Poly’s new J.G. Boswell Agricultural Technology Center.
The Marderosians are longtime supporters of Cal Poly’s College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences and wanted to further their commitment to the university by funding a new plant-pathology lab. The lab will be used to diagnose and explore plant diseases and disease-control strategies.
“The plant-pathology lab in the J.G. Boswell Agricultural Technology Center will give Cal Poly students the ability to research different environmental effects, diseases and agricultural pest issues to compete with the ever-changing world conditions,” Jim Marderosian said. “When students graduate, they will be prepared to handle the industry challenges happening now and in the future.”
Bee Sweet Citrus, founded in 1987, is a packer and shipper of California citrus and has become an industry leader, shipping navel and Valencia oranges, lemons, grapefruit and mandarins throughout the United States and overseas through export.
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The Applied Sciences Innovation Labs within the J.G. Boswell Agricultural Technology Center, expected to be complete in 2021, will feature 11 labs, each dedicated to an important emerging issue in agriculture, nutrition and the food industry.
“The support of industry leaders such as Jim and Michelle Marderosian is essential to providing our students access to state-of- the-art technology and learning opportunities,” Dean Andrew Thulin said. “We are grateful that they share our vision of making our college the best in the nation.”
The Marderosians, who both attended Cal Poly in the 1970s, have a daughter and three sons: Chelsey, Thomas, Marcus and Steven.
The two youngest sons are enrolled at Cal Poly studying agricultural systems management. Their oldest son, Thomas, graduated from Cal Poly in 2013 and now works for the family business running the technical department. Chelsey, a CPA, also works for the family businesses.