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Recent University of Missouri-Columbia graduate receives UM System Student Entrepreneur of the Year

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John Fougere

April 20, 2015

Award recognizes students with demonstrated innovation, originality and entrepreneurial spirit

COLUMBIA, Mo. – University of Missouri System Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, Research and Economic Development Hank Foley today presented the Student Entrepreneur of the Year award to Dustin Stanton, a December 2014 agribusiness management graduate from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Stanton was surprised with the award while serving as a guest presenter at a course on entrepreneurship taught by Randall Westgren, McQuinn Chair of Entrepreneurial Leadership.

The award, which includes a $2,500 prize, recognizes students who have demonstrated innovation, originality and entrepreneurial spirit in the development of processes, products or technologies of commercial potential and/or of benefit to the University of Missouri.

Stanton’s entrepreneurial journey began long before he entered college. In fact, it began at age six in Centralia, Missouri, when he founded Stanton Brothers Eggs as an avenue to generate an allowance and with the hope of bringing his brother, Austin, into the business when he was old enough.  Sixteen years later, he has done just that: Stanton Brothers Eggs is now recognized by the USDA and the FDA as the nation’s largest independent, free-range egg operation.

“I have been more than blessed with the success of my business and give much credit to the help of my family and the support of my customers,” Stanton said. “I have recently received my degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia and plan to use this valuable knowledge to continue to expand my business.”

Zora Mulligan, Dustin Stanton, and Hank Foley

Zora Mulligan (left) and Hank Foley (right) present the Student Entrepreneur of the Year Award to Dustin Stanton.

Stanton’s operation boasts more than 22,000 laying hens and sells to over 40 outlets including grocery stores, health food stores, dining halls, restaurants and bakeries, nursing homes and via retail at farmers’ markets.  In 2014, the business completed construction of the first European-style, automatic layer house in the Midwest. The facility includes automatic feeders, cool cells, fans, attic inlets, and a state-of-the-art nest system that automatically gathers eggs on a conveyor belt system.

“Many entrepreneurs have good ideas and a profitable business. Dustin’s philanthropic nature, drive to succeed, work ethic and outstanding interpersonal communications skills make him unique among his peers,” wrote nominator Michael Monson, associate professor of agricultural and applied economics.

Stanton has provided lectures and keynotes at the Governor’s Conference on Agriculture, HyMax, Women in Ag, #Boom Conference, and the Regional Economic Development, Inc. In 2012, he served as an agricultural representative for the National FFA Organization in Costa Rica as part of outreach on U.S. farming practices and, in 2014, was one of 12 collegiate representatives for the U.S. Grains Council to strengthen grain exports with Japan. He was also named the 2014 American Star in Agribusiness by the National FFA.

Stanton will be formally recognized by UM System President Tim Wolfe on June 25 as part of the University of Missouri System President’s Awards celebration, an annual recognition of faculty members across the four campuses of the UM System who have made exceptional contributions in advancing the mission of the university.

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