Lora and Russ Talbot are legendary in the College of Veterinary Medicine. The Belmond, Iowa couple have been major contributors for years and have supported the college over three separate fundraising campaigns, including the just-concluded Forever True, For Iowa State.
This despite the fact neither is a graduate of Iowa State University. Nor have they brought a pet or farm animal to the Lloyd Veterinary Medical Center for treatment. Yet they have helped support construction projects in the LVMC and the new Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.
“We believe in the college,” Lora and Russ said. “We are examples of friends of the college who, while not being veterinary professionals, are deeply committed to solidly supporting what the college does.”
But for Lora and Russ, it’s not about the donations. It’s about the life-long connections they have made in addition to supporting the college, its students, faculty and staff.
“We have sincerely wanted to use and invest the material successes in our lives for the benefit of everyone at the college,” the couple said. “We want to do all we can to help make the college better.
“Our decisions on where to give are based on the greatest needs, how many recipients will benefit, our personal giving goals, and the college’s current priorities. We believe in practicing ‘targeted giving’ and giving to make a positive difference.”
The Talbots are true to their word. Over the course of the past two decades they have supported numerous funds and projects within the college. Scholarships are a particular passion.
Each year multiple veterinary students have been awarded a scholarship with the Talbot name attached to it. Four-year scholarships have been created for first-year veterinary students. Additional scholarships for third-year students are renewable for the clinical fourth year.
“This type of giving appeals to us because we are helping the talented leaders of tomorrow achieve their dreams and supporting them in creating success during their time at Iowa State,” Lora and Russ said.
Catharine Found, a current fourth-year student, is a four-year Russell G. and Lora L. Talbot Scholar in Veterinary Medicine.
“When I learned I was named a Talbot Scholar, I felt like someone strongly believed in me, my mission and my career goals,” Found said. “The scholarship has given me the extra push I need when I am tired or feel lost in the mix.”
The Talbots philanthropic support reaches far beyond these two scholarships. They have contributed to numerous other scholarships over the years supporting diversity and inclusion, leadership, and business innovation. Their reach has also extended into creating graduate fellowships in veterinary medicine.
Endowments have been established by the couple for their scholarship and graduate fellowship as well as the Lora and Russ Talbot Endowed Professors in Veterinary Medicine. The inaugural endowed professor is Dr. Rachel Allbaugh, associate professor of veterinary clinical sciences. The second position has been fully funded and the couple is currently working on completing the funding for the third endowed professorship.
Allbaugh has used funding from the professorship in a variety of ways – from purchasing a new ocular ultrasound unit used in the ophthalmology unit to supporting a research project for a first-year ophthalmology residents to providing continuing education for members of the ophthalmology team.
“None of these projects would have been possible without the Talbot funds,” Allbaugh said. “I am so grateful for the opportunities the Talbot Professorship has afforded me and that I have been able to pass those on to other members of my team.”
The Talbots are proud of the impact the scholarships, the professorships and other programs they have assisted in the college have made. But they believe the benefit goes both ways.
“We have diligently tried to make ‘extra efforts’ to get to know our recipients,” they say. “We want to demonstrate to them we are cheering them on and emphasize that we are part of their support team.
“We greatly benefit from knowing them and it helps to make our giving to the college more meaningful, interesting and fun.”