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Impact – Making Good on a Promise

Jennifer Ostenson, Hummel Family Foundation Trustee, daughter of Bob and Carole Hummel.

Jennifer Ostenson, Hummel Family Foundation Trustee, daughter of Bob and Carole Hummel.

Tamsin Fleming
May 23, 2024

For college students everywhere, how they will afford a college education is a looming question often left unanswered. While rising costs at universities across the country and the globe have been an issue in recent years, it’s not a new issue.

Approximately 60 years ago, when Bob Hummel attended The Ohio State University, it was not affordable for him, and he needed help to pay his way.

Fortunately, he was given $200 toward his college education from a family friend. In return for that gift, Hummel was asked to give back in some way when he could do so. The sentiment behind that gift, and its impact on his life’s trajectory, was never lost on him. In 2015, when he sold his Greeley-based company that provided animal health products, he and his wife, Carole, along with their children Rob and Jennifer created the Hummel Family Foundation to fulfill his end of the deal more than five decades later.

Today, the Hummel Family Foundation generously supports scholarships at several universities, including the University of Northern Colorado (UNC), The Ohio State University, University of Denver, Rockhurst University, University of Missouri, University of Colorado and Colorado State University.

The 2024 Hummel Family Scholarship reception on April 1 in the University Center celebrated the student recipients and recognized the Hummel family whose support makes the awards possible.

One aspect of UNC that sets it apart from the other universities the Hummel Family Foundation supports is it is one of the two universities no one in the family attended.

“When we started the Family Foundation ... for several universities across the country, the first five were universities someone within the family attended,” said Jennifer Ostenson, Bob Hummel’s daughter. “Then a couple of years later, we decided to add several more universities. Since we’ve been in Greeley so long, my father’s company was based in Greeley, and my brother and I had grown up in Greeley, we really wanted to include UNC.”

The reinvestment in Greeley, by providing UNC students with Hummel Family Scholarships, has greatly impacted the lives of hundreds of students. To date, 208 UNC Hummel Family Scholarships have been awarded to students studying nursing, business and education, with 63 students already earning their degrees.

“[Me, my spouse Eric, my brother Rob, his spouse Patty and my mother] always say it’s the most rewarding thing we’ve ever done in our entire lives, and I’ve been blessed with a wonderful life and great experiences,” said Ostenson.

Central to awarding these scholarships is inspiring the next generation to value the concept of paying it forward.

“We always tell our students: It doesn’t matter how you give or how much you give,” said Ostenson. “That ‘pay it forward’ message is really important to us and to my family.”

A current Hummel Scholar is Jake Owens, a Colorado local from Aurora who took the pay it forward message and ran with it.

When it came time to apply for college, Owens knew he wanted to attend UNC. Pursuing a degree in Special Education, he could not think of a better place to study than the institution known for its long-standing legacy of nationally recognized teacher preparation programs. Owens was drawn to special education as a career while still in high school. He worked at a coffee shop and played on a soccer team where students with and without intellectual disabilities worked and played side by side. Owens was inspired by these experiences and decided to pursue a career where he could continue making a difference.

The positive impact Owens hopes to have on the next generation is made possible thanks to the generosity of the Hummel family.

“I don’t think I could attend UNC without [the Hummel Family Scholarship]. I’m so blessed to have received it,” said Owens. “I was able to do things like [reinstate] the lacrosse team because it allows me not to work all these hours and do school on top of it.” Owens restarted the Men’s Club Lacrosse team at UNC and serves as its president in addition to regularly making the Dean’s Honor Roll. To Owens, receiving the Hummel Scholarship has reinforced the importance of giving. Not only that, he explains, but it is a privilege to be able to give back and improve the lives of those around you.

“I’ve learned, especially through the scholarship, just how giving back is the ultimate gift you can give. You only have X number of days, so you might as well make it worth it and be as generous as you can. Give what you can, and that’s just my time right now. I’m happy to give all my time because I was so blessed to receive the Hummel Family Scholarship,” said Owens.

Headshot of Jake Owens.

Paying it forward takes many forms — whether funding a scholarship, sharing knowledge and professional experience or volunteering time. As Ostenson puts it, it doesn’t matter how you give or how much you give, all that matters is that you do your best to help those around you.