LAWRENCE — From their home amid the rolling hills of northeast Kansas, a couple has made a gift commitment to leave their 120-acre ranch for the University of Kansas. The couple, who wish to remain anonymous, also have made a $2 million gift commitment to KU Endowment to create an endowed fund that will be used to maintain and enhance the property. These gifts will carry out their dream of ensuring that the land they love be preserved in perpetuity for education, research and public enjoyment.
Throughout the property, its landscape reflects the state’s heritage. Abundant fields of native prairie wildflowers and grasses give way to oak groves, towering walnuts and rustling cottonwoods. Ruts from historic pioneer trails and a nearby buffalo wallow recollect the history of Kansas, and from the land’s highest points, the scenic vistas extend for miles.
“We’ve lost almost all of the tallgrass prairie that once covered the heartland, but thanks to the generosity and foresight of these donors, more of what remains can be preserved,” Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said. “This is a wonderful gift that honors the beauty and history of Kansas.”
Ed Martinko, director of Kansas Biological Survey, expressed appreciation to the couple for their generosity. “This gift is extremely important with respect to its contribution for education, research and public outreach,” he said. “This is an absolutely marvelous property that provides many opportunities to preserve native plant communities while at the same time providing an area that can be used for a variety of educational purposes. We are excited about this most generous gift and its contribution to our future endeavors.”
Native prairies contain historical gems of vegetation representing what was here before European settlement and harbor a wide diversity of plants, insects and wildlife, said Kelly Kindscher, senior scientist for Kansas Biological Survey.
After conducting a survey of this particular native prairie, Kindscher described it as an “A grade” prairie.
“This prairie is one of the gems of the prairies that are left,” Kindscher said. “It’s just a delight that it will be protected.”
The gift commitment counts toward Far Above: The Campaign for Kansas, the university’s $1.2 billion comprehensive fundraising campaign. Far Above seeks support to educate future leaders, advance medicine, accelerate discovery and drive economic growth to seize the opportunities of the future.
The campaign is managed by KU Endowment, the independent, nonprofit organization serving as the official fundraising and fund-management organization for KU. Founded in 1891, KU Endowment was the first foundation of its kind at a U.S. public university.