SPRINGFIELD— A family known in the cattle market as top breeders are donating a ranch worth $7 million to Missouri State University.
The Springfield News-Leader reported that the ranch includes more than 1,000 head of cattle and sits on more than 3,300 acres in Douglas County, just 10 miles south of the Mountain Grove campus. In announcing the gift Friday, officials said it is the second-largest donation in school history.
"Given the diverse nature of the Journagan Ranch, with its variety of terrains, water sources, forestation, wildlife and livestock, it can serve as a living, breathing laboratory for many agriculture educational initiatives and research projects," university president Michael Nietzel said in a news release.
Missouri State plans to use the ranch to give agriculture students hands-on experience and give students in programs such as forestry and biology a place for research. Classes are expected to begin at the ranch in the fall.
"I consider the Journagan ranch a great big lab — not hemmed in by walls — in which a student can practice his research or gain experience to hopefully further their knowledge," ranch manager Marty Lueck said in a video prepared by the university.
The university said in the video that the Journagan family wanted to donate the land to an entity that would maintain the cattle ranch and be concerned with economic and environmental sustainability.
Anson Elliott, head of the William H. Darr School of Agriculture, said businessman and ranch owner Leo Journagan approached him with the idea during a visit for unrelated matters.
"I told him it was a good thing he told me to sit down, because my knees would've wobbled otherwise," Elliott said in the video.
The university already has access to the ranch, but the official transfer of the property will occur in stages. The ranch transferred 243 head of Hereford cattle to Missouri State's control in December.