WTAMU adds working ranch for training students, part of One West campaign

Local News

Image via WTAMU website.

CANYON, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — West Texas A&M University has added a working ranch to the foundation as part of the One West comprehensive fundraising campaign, according to WT’s Communications Dept.

On Friday, Sept. 24, WT announced the planned gift of the Gerdsen Family Centennial Ranch, which will be used to train students and is a 1,722-acre ranch located near the WTAMU Nance Ranch, around seven miles east of Canyon.

“This generous land legacy bequest to the WTAMU Foundation, made possible through the wise stewardship of previous generations of the Gerdsen family since 1908, will be an invaluable educational asset for the faculty, staff and students of the Paul Engler College of Agriculture and Natural Sciences, and particularly our Department of Agricultural Sciences,” said Dr. Todd Rasberry, WT vice president for philanthropy and external relations.  

The gift is being coordinated through the Foundation and its Land Legacy Program, WT stated.  

“The Gerdsen Family Centennial Ranch will provide an irreplaceable location for hands-on training in agricultural technologies, practical ranch land management, plant science research and emerging technologies,” said Dr. Kevin Pond, dean of the Engler College of Agriculture and Natural Sciences. 

The One West campaign is set to raise $125 million for WT in the next five years and aims to address challenges in this region.

“Our students will benefit immensely from an educational standpoint to have hands-on training and research opportunities made available from this legacy gift,” said Dr. Lance Kieth, head of WT’s Department of Agricultural Sciences. “It’s the perfect complement to the Nance Ranch, which has been a crucial part of our facilities and curriculum for 40 years.” 

According to WT, the Nance Ranch is 2,393 acres and was given to WT in 1971. The ranch is used as a working lab for WT’s animal science program and as the Semi-Adrid Agriculture Stems Institute, along with the plant and soil science program.

“WT’s stewardship of the Nance Ranch was a crucial factor in our decision to leave our beloved family homestead to the University,” Phyllis Gerdsen said. “We saw how much students benefitted from the hands-on opportunities the Nance Ranch makes available, and we realized that our family legacy could also have long-lasting effects on students and, indeed, the future of this region.” 

Additionally, the Gerdsen Ranch was given to the WTAMU foundation through the estates of siblings Phyllis Gerdsen, Rosemary Gerdsen Prichard and her late husband Stanley and the late Hank Gerdsen, WT said.

Fredrick and Fredia Gerdsen settled in the United States after visiting the Texas Panhandle on their honeymoon. After living in Nebraska, they arrived in Canyon in 1908 where they settled. Their grandchildren were born on the ranch, according to the press release.

Before his death in September 2020, Hank Gerdsen came up with the initial idea to give the ranch to the WTAMU Foundation.

“When we first met, he told me, ‘This land has been good to us, and it should be treasured and kept together,’” said Lesly Bosch Annen, WT’s assistant vice president for leadership gifts and development. “Over the last year of working with his sisters, it is clear that they all have a love of the land, as have their forebearers, and they are all committed to providing WT students the opportunity to learn from and care for this land.” 

The release explained that the ranch will be used for new its new educational purposes and at the time of the last Gerdsen sibling’s death, the ranch will officially be given to WT.

The Gerdsen Family Centennial Ranch Endowment was established by the Gerdsen sisters to support maintenance of the ranch, which now includes 364-adjoining acres purchased by the Prichards in 2011 from the Rogge family.

In addition, Rosemary Prichard established the Stanley Ray Prichard and Rosemary Gerdsen Prichard Scholarship in memory of her late husband. According to WT, the first awards were given to Brooke Parker, a senior animal science major from Canyon, and Brayden Danielsen, a junior animal science major from Pueblo, Colo.

“My husband and I worked and sacrificed to purchase the Rogge property because we both loved the land so much,” Rosemary Prichard said. “It only seemed fitting, because our family has always relied on our livestock, that we find a way to assist students from our area further their studies and hopefully become veterinarians who will serve rural regions like ours.” 

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