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Campaign Update

Swaner Preserve and EcoCenter Makes Largest Gift in USU's History

Utah State University President Stan L. Albrecht and the board of directors of the Swaner Preserve and EcoCenter in Park City announced in January the largest private gift in USU history.


The gift transfers the Swaner Preserve and EcoCenter to USU ownership and oversight. The monetary value of the gift is in excess of $30 million. Moreover, the addition of the Swaner Preserve and EcoCenter directly advances USU's statewide scientific, educational and outreach mission in the Park City area.


The Swaner Preserve and EcoCenter consists of a 1,200–acre land trust in the Snyderville Basin and a 10,000 square–foot, state–of–the–art facility dedicated to environmental education. The preserve protects critical wetland and foothill terrain in the heart of one of the state's fastest–growing areas. The EcoCenter, completed in 2009, is a multi–use facility with space for educational and community activities. The facility is LEED Platinum Certified, the highest standard for design, construction and operation of high–performance green buildings.


“The gift of the Swaner Preserve and EcoCenter will be renowned as one of the most important in Utah State University's history,” Albrecht said. “USU's expertise, coupled with the commitment of the Swaner family and the Park City community, will ensure that the Swaner commitment to the ecosystem will be fulfilled.”


While becoming a component unit of Utah State University, the Swaner Preserve and EcoCenter will continue to bear the Swaner name as a tribute to Leland and Dr. Paula Swaner, who attended USU. The Swaners operated the preserve as a working cattle ranch and began the preserve in 1993 with an initial gift of 190 acres. Thanks to the Swaners, their family and other supporters, the preserve has grown to 1,200 acres through additional land donations and acquisitions.


“Although the Swaner Preserve and EcoCenter bear my family's name, we certainly don't deserve all the credit for its creation,” said Sumner Swaner '84 Chairman, Swaner Preserve and EcoCenter Board. “Over the past 17 years myriad donors, past and current board members, volunteers, friends and family members have worked tirelessly to conserve this land and develop the EcoCenter.”


Today the Swaner Preserve and EcoCenter pursues a three–fold mission to preserve the land and the human connection to the natural landscape, to educate the local and broader communities about the value of nature and to nurture both the ecosystem and the people connected with it.


“The board's objective in making this donation was to partner the Preserve and EcoCenter with an organization that will continue the Swaner mission in perpetuity,” said Annette Herman '91 MBA, executive director of the Swaner Preserve and EcoCenter. “Utah State University — as Utah's land–grant institution and with its world–renowned curriculum in natural resources, conservation and science — is the perfect match for Swaner.”


The EcoCenter will become USU's first facility in the Park City area. A high–level team of administrators is working to develop a plan to maximize the value of the gift for the university, the Swaner Preserve and EcoCenter, and the greater Park City community.


“When we began creating the Swaner Preserve and EcoCenter nearly 20 years ago, we had the goal of finding a partner that shared our vision for this land,” said Dr. Paula Swaner, founding board member. “This is truly a dream come true to know we have found one in USU that will help us conserve and maintain this land as open space forever.”


USU's president said the university is thrilled by the gift and the opportunity it represents.


“We look forward to partnering with Swaner's board and staff to offer the Park City community new and unique educational opportunities,” Albrecht said. “This site will become a key part of the cultural and educational fabric of Summit County.”


Equine Education Center Taking Shape

The south end of Cache Valley is changing. As you drive out of Sardine Canyon toward Logan, you will notice a large beamed structure to the east, close to the Matthew Hillyard Animal Teaching and Research Center. When completed, that structure will be Phase One of the new Equine Education Center.


The ALSAM Foundation will have a stall named after its founder Sam Skaggs in the new facility. Because of the generosity of the ALSAM Foundation and other donors, the newly established four–year equine science and management undergraduate teaching program will have a permanent home. When fully occupied, this facility will accommodate an anticipated enrollment of 150 students. There will also be large arenas, pens, stalls and bridle path.


“This is such an exciting time for the College of Agriculture,” said Noelle Cockett, USU's vice president for Extension and Agriculture and dean of the College of Agriculture. “The generous gift from The ALSAM foundation, along with many other gifts from donors at all levels, is making the Equine Education Center a reality. Without them, this magnificent center would not be possible. The center will have a significant impact on the education and training of people in Cache Valley and the region who love horses. We are thrilled to see the new center finally come to life.”


The completed arena will host 4–H and other shows and competitions. The Equine Education Center at Utah State University will become a gathering and educational location for equine lovers throughout the Intermountain West.


A Strong Legacy

A new building is taking shape on the USU campus. The Emma Eccles Jones Early Childhood Education and Research Center will provide services to children who are deaf or hard of hearing, have language impairments or literacy/learning disabilities and their families. The Center will include the Dolores Doré Eccles Center for Early Care and Education for the education and care for the infants and preschoolers of USU students and faculty.


In honor of retiring Dean Carol Strong, the main hallway in this new building will be named the Carol J. Strong Children's Street. A gift matching all donations up to $50,000 will be given by the Emma Eccles Jones Foundation in recognition of the leadership and vision exemplified by Dean Strong.


Opportunities are available for naming gifts from $100,000 to $10,000. Two grand entryways will grace the new building with paving stones engraved for friends and families of the college. Paving stones are available for a minimum donation of $250. For a complete list of naming opportunities and to make a donation, contact Frank Stewart at 435.797.1611.