UT Martin classroom named for Tosh family

Jimmy Tosh is known as a successful businessman and family farmer through his association with Tosh Family Farms in Henry, Tennessee. He’s also known for his generosity and his support for his alma mater, the University of Tennessee at Martin. Tosh was recognized May 5 when the Tosh Family Classroom was officially named during an early afternoon program in UT Martin’s Brehm Hall. The event included Tosh, family members and university Chancellor Keith Carver.

Tosh studied animal science, graduated from the university in 1972 and has managed the family business since receiving his degree. He and his wife, Alonna, have two sons, Jonathan and Jamey, both partners in the business. Jamey is a 2002 UT Martin agriculture graduate and 2020 WestStar Leadership Program graduate. The company’s website notes that Tosh Farms includes 18,000 acres of land, half of which is company owned. The other half is leased from 83 landowners in the Henry area. Tosh Pork cares for approximately 36,000 sows that produce more than 930,000 market hogs annually. Tosh Farms is currently the largest pork producer in Tennessee and the 30th largest pork producer in the U.S.

Dr. Todd Winters, College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences dean, told the audience gathered to honor Tosh that he’s known first for his farming family. “Father, family man, grandfather, husband – it’s definitely a family operation at Tosh Farms,” he said. “And I know it’s not easy.” However, Winters said that Tosh’s identity goes well beyond his business success.

“Humanitarian, advocate, even in some cases, activist, and you know the Tosh family are known especially in Henry County but throughout Northwest Tennessee of feeding people when they’re hungry,” he said.

“Humanitarian, advocate, even in some cases, activist, and you know the Tosh family are known especially in Henry County but throughout Northwest Tennessee of feeding people when they’re hungry,” he said. “They’re known for giving people chances that have maybe made some mistakes in their life and will give them a job if they’re willing to work. There’s not a lot of people like that around.” Winters then told how Tosh and his family have supported the university’s agricultural programs, including student research and travel to the Tennessee Governor’s School for the Agricultural Sciences.

“Jimmy and the Tosh family have generously supported UT Martin as they have been instrumental in the success of Captain’s Challenge, providing $50,000 in matching funds for the College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences for the past several years,” Carver said.

Carver built on the university-support theme and recognized all that has been done for by the Henry County family, especially supporting the annual UT Martin Captain’s Challenge fundraiser. “Jimmy and the Tosh family have generously supported UT Martin as they have been instrumental in the success of Captain’s Challenge, providing $50,000 in matching funds for the College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences for the past several years,” Carver said. “Folks, that investment – when you put out that investment, that challenge match – that gets people excited,” Carver said. “It makes them want to give and turn their money into something great. Because of their leadership in the agriculture industry and their very generous support of UT Martin, today we would like to dedicate the Tosh Family Classroom at UT Martin.”

Tosh was grateful for the recognition and joked that it was nicer “to have a classroom named after you than a tombstone.” On a more serious note, he later talked about his family’s history in the farming business and how UT Martin had impacted his life for the better. “Going to college really teaches you to think and how to deal with people. That was a great experience here,” Tosh said following the event.

Tosh added that the College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences means a lot to him personally and to the region. “It’s been (the college) a great influence on West Tennessee when considering agriculture,” he said. “I’ve got good friends that went to school here and have gone back into agriculture in this area. …. Plus, it’s been a real resource for us, and it’s always helped our farm.”

Tosh family gifts and pledges have benefited both the University of Tennessee and UT Martin. The naming of university facilities and other assets follows a policy adopted in 2010 by the UT Board of Trustees.

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