Students go nuts for fund-raising project

By Casey Peacock: PNT Staff Writer

Eastern New Mexico University and Sunland Peanuts officials have decided to throw peanuts at the task of raising scholarship money at the university — a whole bunch of peanuts.

At a press conference Friday, the Peanut Project Program was formally launched. “Investing in Education: One peanut at a time” is the campaign slogan.

Utilizing students instead of a paid professional staff, the Peanut Project will focus on the marketing and sale of a food product, according to an ENMU press release. Money raised from the project will go toward providing scholarships to students. Four-ounce bags of peanuts will be sold for $1 to raise money for the scholarships, the release said.

“We really think this is an excellent real-world experience for our students,” said ENMU Academic Affairs Vice President Robert Vartabedian. “Not only will the Peanut Project raise funds for scholarships, it will also help to provide the students job experiences that they can take with them when they graduate.”

The students are responsible for all phases of the project, according to Vartabedian. Initial costs will be absorbed by the Academic Affairs department, as long as the students sell the product. Everything from design to marketing has been done and will continue to be done by students, Vartabedian said.

Approached by Vartabedian and a group of students, Jimmy Shearer, Sunland Peanuts president, chief executive officer and owner, has been working with the group since spring 2005 to launch the campaign.

“I’m real excited about it,” Shearer said. “It’s a great deal for the college and the community.”

The initial goal is to sell 72,000 bags of peanuts, said Vartabedian. So far the project has sold 1,000 bags of peanuts.

“Overall, the profit margin will be $50,000,” said Vartabedian.

The peanuts were sold during the recent College Daze Rodeo and are being sold at the ENMU bookstore. They have also been placed in all the vending machines across campus, said Vartabedian. They will also be sold during homecoming and the holiday season, said Vartabedian. The students also hope to market gift bags and other peanut-based products in the future, said Vartabedian.

Another aspect of the project, said Vartabedian, is the public relations that the Peanut Project will provide for the university.
“I think it could be a very good identifier for ENMU and Portales,” said Vartabedian.