A Good Idea, 25 Years, and $1 Million Later

It all started in December of 1997 at the Holiday Bowl football game in San Diego, California. Colorado State University, under legendary head coach Sonny Lubick, was facing off against the University of Missouri. In attendance were seven graduates from the College of Agricultural Sciences who began talking about how they could support their dual passions for the Department of Animal Sciences and Athletics.

Following CSU’s 35-24 win, the alumni returned to Colorado and began talking with friends and colleagues to see if there was wider interest in the endeavor. They were excited to discover there was, and in 1999, the Beef Club was officially recognized by the CSU Foundation. The founders asked for a 10-year commitment and got it from most members, even though three-quarters of them had not previously been strongly connected or donating to the University.

Kristie and Jim Docheff, Jr.
Kristie and Jim Docheff, Jr.

The price of $900 for an annual membership was the value of a grown (or finished) steer at the time – hence the name Beef Club. They offered five $2,000 scholarships to juniors and seniors studying animal sciences and worked with staff in Athletics to identify non-budgeted expenses they could cover. Distribution of the funds is overseen by the Beef Club Executive Committee in cooperation with the dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences and the Athletic Director.

That was 25 years ago. Some things have changed – like the price of membership and the scholarship award amounts – but many of the people have not.

The president of the Beef Club for the past eight years has been Jim Docheff, Jr. (B.S., ’83), one of the original seven founders and executive committee member. Throughout the year, club members participate in numerous events, the planning and execution of which are entirely managed by Jim’s wife, Kristie (B.S., ’82). The couple runs a 4th generation dairy farm in Mead, Colorado, and are lifetime members of the Alumni Association.

“Jim and Kristie have poured their hearts and souls into this and have been instrumental in keeping it going,” said founding member, past president, and executive committee member, Randy Blach (B.S., ’80). He credits the Docheffs with reenergizing the club’s culture of giving by creating and promoting the New Wave, a $300 annual membership designed to bring people 35 years of age and younger into the club.

Annual outreach activities also involve the Meat Sciences Team, who regularly prepare and serve appetizers and meals across campus in support of the College of Agricultural Sciences and Athletics, such as Senior Night for the football team and the Livestock Leader Award dinner, this year being held on the CSU Spur campus.

In the past two and half decades, the club has consistently made a significant and targeted impact. For the college, they have provided scholarships for nearly 125 students studying animal sciences, named spaces within the Animal Sciences and Nutrien buildings, and funded a scholarship in honor of Bill Wailes, whose tenure at CSU and work in the ag industry touched and influenced many people. For Athletics, the club has purchased weight equipment, computers and iPads, video equipment, a golf cart, and sideline headsets to name just a few.

Beef Club event in Spring 2022.
Members of the Beef Club along with CSU Meat Sciences students pose with head coach Jay Norvell (back row center) in April 2022 following a meal served to 400 players and their families prior to a spring football game at Canvas Stadium.

Reaching $1 million in giving is quite a milestone for all involved. “It’s amazing that we’ve done it,” said Kristie. “We intend to grow the club and keep it strong. I think it says a lot that members have continued to prioritize the Beef Club and contribute each year.”

Blach agrees. “Our success is a testament to the loyalty and vision of alumni who want to support the University and our leaders of tomorrow. And I believe the Beef Club concept could be taken to every college on the campus and like-minded people could create more scholarships and make a difference in areas that matter to them.”

In 2021, the College of Agricultural Sciences honored Kristie and Jim with a Distinguished Alumni Award. The recognition was more-than fitting and also reflective of a good working relationship. “CSU has been a fantastic partner and should be so proud of the students in Animal Sciences and Athletics. When we meet them, they are engaging and very appreciative. That says so much about the University and the quality of our students.”

In case you were wondering, the original seven founders are Jim Docheff, Randy Blach, Chuck Sylvester, Jr. (B.S., ’61; M.Agr., ’86); Dr. Tom Field (B.S., ’80; M.S., ’87; Ph.D., ’90), George Seward (B.A., ’72), Brad Anderson (B.S., ’76), Cary Wickstrom (B.S., ’85), and Dwayne Sharp (B.S., ’70; M.S., ’71).

To become a member of the Beef Club, please contact Kristie Docheff at diamo0329@aol.com.

*  *  *  *

When you join the Colorado State University Alumni Association, you become part of something bigger – a global community of green and gold that keeps alumni connected to the University and each other. Life members Jim and Kristie Docheff are making an impact on current students and future Rams through their volunteerism and donations; providing support for alumni programming, outreach, and nationwide engagement; and preserving time-honored traditions that bind us together as Rams. You can make a difference too, and gain access to benefits such as exclusive invites, bookstore savings, career services, and more. Become a member today!