Alum Establishes Scholarship to Support Natural Resources and Science Students

May, 2023
Brad L. Smith with a basket of apricots from his garden. Brad recently established a scholarship endowment for the College of Natural Resources & Sciences

Brad Smith’s (‘71, Wildlife Management) favorite part about being a Wildlife major at Cal Poly Humboldt was the hands-on learning experience. He remembers heading to the redwood forest behind campus to identify plant species and studying animals from his textbooks in their natural environments.

Now as an alum and donor, he’s providing the next generation of Cal Poly Humboldt students the same educational experience through his recently established Brad L. Smith Natural Resources and Sciences Scholarship Endowment with a $41,000 gift. The scholarship will be awarded to students in good academic standing with a financial need in the College of Natural Resources & Sciences beginning next fall.

Brad has been a Humboldt donor since 2012 and was inspired to give more to students when he heard about Humboldt’s polytechnic designation. Brad’s gift was made possible through a tax benefit known as a “Qualified Charitable Distribution” (or an Individual Retirement Account Rollover) from his IRA account.

“I chose to create the endowment for students studying Natural Resources and Sciences because I know there are people out there who want hands-on learning experiences, and I know the Cal Poly Humboldt designation will take them far in the science fields,” Brad says.

He also became inspired to make a greater impact when he visited campus last year for a Golden Graduate celebration.

Humboldt’s Golden Graduate tradition invites alumni who graduated 50 years ago to revisit the campus and connect with other alumni who graduated in the same year. A new group of Golden Grads will be honored during commencement on Saturday, May 13.

During his visit, he learned more about Humboldt’s plan to expand campus programs and build more infrastructure for student learning experiences. As he was reconnecting with the University, he began reminiscing about his time as a student.

Brad remembered being very involved in all his natural science classes and spending hours studying at the library. But Brad says he learned lessons beyond the classroom, like how to be determined and achieve his goals—a trait he carried with him throughout his nearly 38 years in banking, including over 20 years as CEO of three different California community banks.

“Humboldt taught me to move forward and be successful, which has now allowed me to help students pay for a great education at Humboldt. Through this scholarship, I want students to be encouraged and as excited about learning as I was at Humboldt, without worrying about costs,” Brad says.

With his established endowment, Brad can help students for years to come.

“I wanted to be a part of helping students because we need students who are very interested in the sciences—not only to help combat climate change but also to appreciate and understand the importance and value of plants and animals within our many ecosystems,” Brad says.

Join donors like Brad Smith! Help expand access and create new opportunities by supporting Humboldt through the Boldly Rising campaign. For more information, contact the Cal Poly Humboldt Foundation at or (707) 826-5200.

Photo: Brad L. Smith established a scholarship endowment with a $41,000 gift to support Cal Poly Humboldt students studying natural resources and sciences.