The C.E. “Chuck” Gardner Agricultural Scholarship Endowment is being established with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service Foundation within the NC Agricultural Foundation in recognition of Gardner’s more than 30 years of commitment to agriculture and natural resources education in Ashe County.
In a Memorandum of Understanding between the Family and Friends of C.E. “Chuck” Gardner and the NC Extension Service and Agricultural Foundation, it is noted that the endowment is begun with a $6,000 investment toward a goal of $25,000 from which the first gifts from investment income will be made. Scholarships will be awarded to Ashe County students planning to study agriculture and natural resources toward a career in those fields.
As a teenager, Gardner spent many summers traveling to Ashe County with his father, M.E. Gardner, a horticulture professor and head of the horticulture department at NC State, as he conducted research on potato production. Gardner graduated from North Carolina State University in 1948 with a degree in horticulture. He went to work for the Ashe County Extension Service as a part-time agent for agriculture and 4-H, and also held positions as general agriculture agent and county Extension director during his 31 years of service.
“Chuck was a very progressive agent who was instrumental in the establishment of the Christmas Tree Industry in North Carolina, overseeing the first planting of white pines on the Colvard Farm in 1950 and 1951,” states the Memorandum of Understanding. “Cultivated Fraser Fir Christmas trees soon followed with seedlings that were harvested from Mount Rogers and set in Ashe County. He also helped to open a new livestock sale facility, as well as provided his assistance and friendship to the farmers and landowners of Ashe County. He spoke most fondly of the trips he would take his 4-H groups on to the coast showing