Murray State helps endow scholarship for former BASF employee

By Shawn Touney | Jan 27, 2023

Scott Kay (BASF) and Mark Stewart (AFA) signing a Memorandum of Understanding with Murray State.

Scott Kay (BASF) and Mark Stewart (AFA) signing a Memorandum of Understanding with Murray State.

MURRAY, Ky. — In partnership with BASF and Agriculture Future of America (AFA), Murray State University  recently announced the endowment of a scholarship in honor of former BASF employee, Rocky Napier. The Rocky Napier Scholarship is funded by BASF and will provide Murray State students with a scholarship and attendance to AFA Leaders Conference every year.

Scott Kay, BASF Vice President, US Agricultural Solutions, founded the scholarship on behalf of Napier to honor his life and legacy. Napier, a more than 25-year employee with BASF, was well-known within the agriculture industry and had a passion for education and mentorship. 

“Rocky was the most selfless person and was committed to the development of everyone around him — both industry professionals and students,” said Kay. “BASF is proud to endow the scholarship in Rocky’s name to continue the dedication he showed to the agriculture industry, as well as his investment in college students.”

In 2000, Napier had a vision to further BASF’s involvement on Murray State’s farm. He started a collaboration with the University to turn underutilized fields into BASF research and development plots. Napier began hosting field days at the plots — later known as Rocky’s Field Day — to provide research-based solutions for farmers and opportunities for students to see research trials first-hand. 

“Rocky was very visionary and forward thinking,” said Dr. Tony Brannon, longtime Dean of the Hutson School of Agriculture at Murray State University who retired in January 2023. “He believed in Murray State and our hands-on farm education, and worked on the research plots, many hours on his own time. He’s certainly someone to be honored and has left a legacy that will impact students and the agricultural industry for years to come.”

Prior to his long-standing career with BASF, Napier taught vocational agriculture as a high school and adult teacher in Kentucky. Throughout his career, Napier carried his educational philosophy with him, which allowed him to excel in his career and become a pillar in the BASF and Murray State communities.

“It’s fitting to have a scholarship in Rocky’s name because he was a teacher,” said Dale Ashby, friend and former colleague of Napier. “He took great pride in teaching and continued to be a mentor throughout his life. If I had to hand pick anyone to have a scholarship named in their honor, it would be Rocky.”

Students selected to receive the Rocky Napier Scholarship will receive a scholarship toward their education, as well as sponsorship to attend AFA Leaders Conference. AFA Leaders Conference is a four-day event that bridges the gap between college and career, and provides the tools for professional success for college students studying food, agriculture and natural resources.

“AFA is honored to host a scholarship in honor of Rocky, who made a lasting impact on agriculture and his communities,” said Mark Stewart, AFA President and CEO. “While Rocky did not have a direct connection to AFA, his ideals, philosophies and core mission of developing young talent tie directly to the mission of AFA. We are honored and grateful to carry Rocky’s legacy to benefit the future leaders of our industry.”

To donate to the Rocky Napier Scholarship, visit

BASF continues to prioritize the support of students at various levels through ongoing scholarships as well as hands-on learning programs. 

“The needs of our rapidly changing planet are growing at a speed that requires a tenacious pool of scholars, poised to meet its demands,” said Kay. “BASF is thrilled to support the students, learning, leading and meeting these challenges head-on at ground level.”

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