Darhl Foreman, Kenneth Kutina and Ana Locci share a common love for a Case Western Reserve University treasure—the University Farm—that has forged the three individuals into a team with a goal.
Their team efforts have resulted in the establishment of a new endowment fund to keep the 389-acre Squire Valleevue and Valley Ridge Farms thriving for research, education and recreational uses for many years to come.
According the farm's history, in 1919, Andrew Squire provided in his will that his Valleevue Farm should be "held in perpetuity for the use and benefit of the teachers and students of the Flora Stone Mather College of the Western Reserve University." He specified, "I desire it cultivated and preserved as a farm for educational purposes, and to be a place where the practical duties of life may be taught; where the teachers and students can come in close contact with Mother Earth; and where those needing rest and recreation may obtain it. I desire that the woods thereon be kept and improved."
This team of faculty, administrators and alumni has a common interest: their ongoing love for, and dedication to, the Case Western Reserve University Farm.
Foreman was the first women to become full professor in the biology department. Since being elected to emeritus status in 1998, she continues to conduct and publish research from her University Farm-based office and laboratory on the findings from her prairie dog colony.
Before the university built the Millis Science Center in the 1960s, Foreman could not find space on the main campus in Mather Memorial Hall in the 1950s to house her colony of 50 prairie dogs.
She applied for and was awarded an NIH grant to remodel space at the Farm for her research. She based her work there until Millis was built and could accommodate her research. Coming to the Farm for her research cultivated her love for the campus in Hunting Valley and the potential it has for research and education as well as recreational uses for students, staff, faculty and alumni.
Another key member of this team is Kutina. He is a charter member of the University Farm Management Committee that was established in the late 1970's. He is a triple alumnus with degrees from the Case School of Engineering, the Weatherhead School of Management and the Graduate School.
After his retirement in 2002 from the university as vice president for institutional planning, he was appointed to emeritus status by the Board of Trustees. He then worked part-time for the School of Medicine as a senior consultant for three years. He now continues his work and involvement with the University from his emeritus office at the Farm.
Both Foreman and Kutina have made several substantial contributions to update the offices, teaching and research spaces at the Farm, but saw that it is difficult to sustain the facilities with individual gifts alone.
Locci, farm director and adjunct assistant professor of biology, is the third team member. She has been at the Farm for more than 25 years. She started her master's degree program at the Farm in 1982 and continued her work there through completion of her doctorate degree. In 2000, she became farm director. Under her leadership, the level of educational, research, and recreational programs at the Farm has expanded. Now six undergraduate and graduate courses are based at the Farm, community outreach programs have been greatly increased to serve teachers and students from local schools, enhanced cross country training and running trails have been built, restored ponds and fields are thriving, the self-directed nature trail has been upgraded and some very significant historical buildings have been saved from destruction and are now being carefully preserved and restored.
Locci and the University Farm Management Committee have followed a strategy to reflect the missions of the University in the Farm's research, teaching and student life endeavors.
More than 30,000 visitors annually come to the Farm to trek its forests, ravines, waterfalls, meadows, ponds and brooks set in the picturesque hills above the Chagrin River in the village of Hunting Valley. The guests range from researchers, like Case biologist Paul Drewa looking at the ecology of trees of Northeast Ohio, Joseph Kieper and Tim Matson from the Cleveland Museum of Natural History who study pond's insects and amphibians, to groups gathered for family picnics or casual hikers. Student groups can use the Farm facilities without paying any fees and have instituted traditions such as Halloween at the Farm, a popular event organized by student leaders for the staff, faculty, students and their families.
The green space is looking to go even eco-greener. Among planned Farm upgrades under consideration and in progress are green initiatives to install a geothermal heating system to reduce gas consumption, refurbishing prairies with indigenous plants and aerating ponds with wind power to reduce algae growth to encourage a healthy wildlife habitat for amphibian and aquatic plants. Such ecological projects also present opportunities for the University community traversing the Farm to learn about eco-friendly ways to live and function.
This team wants others to have that opportunity in the years ahead by establishing the fund to help maintain the property with more than 20 structures, including historic barns, conference and classroom facilities, a greenhouse, homes, garages and acres of green space with leisure, exercise, and learning trails. Many of the University Farm buildings are over 100 years old and require extensive upkeep to preserve their rich history.
"We want something to be here centuries after Ana, Ken and I are gone," said Foreman.
The goal is to raise a million dollars over the next five years to produce revenues that will enhance all aspects of Farm programs.
The benefits that an endowment fund would give the Committee and Locci are the flexibility to plan and seek additional funding for major farm improvements that require matching funds and accessibility to funds for maintenance and enhancements where and when needed.
Contributions to the new University Farm Endowment Fund can be sent to Ana Locci or the development office at Case Western Reserve. For more information about contributing funds, contact Locci at 368-0274. Learn more about the University Farm.
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