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Tony and Nancy Yurkovich: supporting future farmers in sustainable agriculture

Through their contributions, Dr. Anthony and Nancy Yurkovich hope that students can create a better future for all.

Nancy and Dr. Anthony Yurkovich

A first-generation Croatian-Canadian, Dr. Anthony (Tony) Yurkovich received his Bachelor of Science in Agriculture from UBC in 1951, and then his Doctor of Medicine in 1955, all while working several jobs to support his education.

Together with his wife Nancy, a registered nurse and fierce advocate for palliative care, they continue to devote their time to giving back, recognizing that when students are free of the stress from their finances, they can excel in their academics.

“Tony had to scramble together and get all the dollars to do all of this,” shares Nancy. “Nowadays, particularly in medicine, there’s some expectations that you’ve been able to volunteer. When you’re trying to make enough to get into university, it’s not something you can do.”

With that experience in mind, Tony and Nancy continue to make significant contributions to the Faculty of Land and Food Systems and the Faculty of Medicine. These contributions include donations to the upgrade of Agora Café, a student-led business in the MacMillan building, the UBC Farm building, and the Department of Family Practice to advance relationship-based health care.

In the middle of a pandemic, they are especially committed to seeing places like the UBC Farm continue to teach future farmers about sustainable agriculture.

“The pandemic has focused the need for food security and teaching farmers the importance of land and growing healthy food,” says Nancy. “We have to have food grown closer to home because the supply chains have shown us that we can’t always expect to get everything from someplace else.”

Despite the uncertainties of the future, Tony and Nancy hope that UBC continues to be an inspiration not just for the province, but also for the world — a place where critical thinking is encouraged, and students are aware of their capabilities and how they can contribute to a better future.

“Universities are a microcosm of the world,” says Nancy. “In that space, we hope students can listen to each other, understand each other, and model values that are good for everybody. We hope that they’re able to find what interests them and what brings them satisfaction.”