Alex and Helen Woskob left Ukraine during the Soviet era. The couple immigrated through Canada to United States, conquering many difficulties. They always felt the importance of their roots and traditions, and preserved their native language and identity within their family.
Helen was awarded the Princess Olga award with distinction, and the Third Degree-prize by President Victor Yushchenko for her great commitment to helping Ukraine. George and Nina stepped up to take on the duties of running the Woskob Family Foundation, establishing their own donation Program in 2014. The Woskobs gifted $100K to support collaboration between Penn State and Ukraine. Nina and George brought up their children: Larissa, George, and Alexander to be successful Ukrainian-American activists within the community.
Alex and Helen come from a lineage of landowners and farmers. They knew that agriculture has the potential of being Ukraine’s number one industry, and they also knew that Penn State University (PSU) supports agriculture. Penn State is active in assisting and exchanging valuable agricultural sciences and researching the economics of agriculture. Giving Ukrainians access to Penn State’s research development means a better economy for Ukraine and its people.
Shortly after Ukrainian Independence in 1991, Alex Woskob donated $100,000 in support to agricultural development programs in Ukraine, and initiated the first Penn State Center for Ukrainian Agriculture in 1992. At the same time they funded the Woskob Family Fund for Ukrainian Studies at Penn State University donating close to $2 million to both programs with cooperation between Penn State and the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS). The Faculty Exchange Program (FEP) and other Department of State and U.S. government-sponsored exchanges supported over 100 researchers, scientists, junior faculty members and graduate students from Ukraine in agricultural sciences and forestry.
The Woskob Endowment for Ukrainian Studies in the college of Liberal Arts enabled many graduates to earn Master’s Degrees and Ph.D. degrees.
The country of Ukraine is blessed with an abundance of natural resources. And the Woskob family took the initiative and utilized their skills and effort developing these resources and helping enrich so many Ukrainian people’s lives.
In 2015, the Woskob International Research in Agriculture (WIRA) Scholars Program had very successful scholars and they developed many successful programs for Ukraine. Highlights in Liberal Arts in the past year include a symposium on Ukrainian folklore and popular culture. Due to the current instability it became more challenging to promote programs in Eastern Ukraine. Therefore, they have focused a little more on travel from Ukraine to the U.S. for junior faculty members being part of the WIRA Program.
The Woskobs continue working on behave of Ukraine, with Penn State to plan a series of cultural and academic events in 2016 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the re-birth of Ukraine.
On the other note, Nina Woskob is also a founder of fabulous Designer’s Studio of handcrafted American furniture, located in Pennsylvania. (www.designerstudio.com)
Iryna Tretiakova, Elena Vasilevsky.
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