Farmland gift to impact 4-H and child development

Farmland gift to impact 4-H and child development
Farmland gift to impact 4-H and child development

URBANA, Ill. - Illinois 4-H and the University of Illinois have been a part of Nann Armstrong’s heritage for multiple generations. With a recent gift of farmland, Armstrong ensured her family’s legacy will continue to impact current and future generations of 4-H members and students in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) Department of Human Development and Family Studies. 

As Armstrong organized her estate, she recognized that gifting farmland to the University of Illinois Foundation was a good option for her. The foundation will maintain the farm and she was able to direct annual income from the land to support causes near and dear to her.

Armstrong’s parents, J. George (B.S. ’40) and Anna M. (B.S. ’41) Smith, met at the University of Illinois, married, and established their farming operation in Oswego, Illinois While they built and managed a respected Holstein dairy herd, they raised four children—all of who would attend the University of Illinois—and invested in farmland and other assets. They were both 4-H members and continued their commitment to 4-H, becoming leaders even before the four siblings were old enough to be members. 

A gift of opportunities

Armstrong appreciates the 4-H experiences that impacted her life and wants to share those opportunities with today’s youth.

“4-H builds leadership and supports working in the community,” Armstrong says. “There are so many opportunities beyond the fun of being in a local club.”

Armstrong fondly recalls being recognized as a national achievement winner at 4-H Congress. This honor applauded her accomplishments in both agriculture and home economics, as well as her 4-H records.

“Who knows what might happen to this generation and future generations of kids,” she says. “I’m hopeful that 4-H will play a part in their future.”

The Illinois 4-H program looks forward to this gift benefiting youth for many more generations.

“As a child development professional, Nann recognizes the value of positive youth development programs, and we are grateful for her longstanding support as both a 4-H alum and donor,” notes Lisa Diaz, Illinois 4-H assistant dean and director. “Her generous gift of farmland will provide support for 4-H programs statewide.”

A gift for future professionals

When it was time, Armstrong only applied to one college.

“From the time I was old enough to understand my parents’ loyalty to the University of Illinois, I knew I was going there,” Armstrong explains.

With her mom’s educational background and love of all aspects of home economics, along with her dad’s encouragement, she majored in home economics. She was also on the dairy judging team, maintaining her strong interest in animal sciences.  

When her late husband Dick’s Navy career sent him to the University of Kansas to earn a master’s degree, Armstrong strengthened her credentials with a master’s degree in educational psychology and research, which included significant course work in human and cognitive development.

“At Illinois, I had child development courses, but had not considered that aspect very highly as part of my home economics career,” Armstrong explains. “Going to Kansas and focusing on the human development process was very impactful. That was why I wanted to ensure the Department of Human Development and Family Studies was included in my gift.”

Armstrong is not new to generosity and impacting youth.

“In addition to this generous gift of farmland supporting undergraduate and graduate students pursuing careers in human development and family studies, Nann previously ensured children enrolled in the Child Development Laboratory have a wonderful playground to learn and grow through play,” says Ramona Oswald, head of the Department of Human Development and Family Studies. “We sincerely appreciate her investment in future child development professionals for perpetuity.”

A gift about family

As much of her parents’ farmland was purchased for development during rapid urbanization in northeast Illinois, Armstrong and her siblings invested in other land via 1031 exchanges. She and Dick looked to Henderson County, Illinois, near where he grew up, and purchased the property she recently donated to the University of Illinois Foundation.

Significant to Armstrong’s decision was her relationship with the farm operator, Kim Gullberg, and the ability for him to continue caring for the land after she made her gift.

“I have placed my trust in him, and I want to continue to support his farming operation,” she says. “He’s a good steward of the land. I know he’ll do a good job.”

Armstrong’s daughter and son, who are also Illinois alumni, recognize the importance of the University of Illinois and 4-H to their family, she says. She also thinks her husband would be pleased with her decision to leave this lasting gift of farmland to impact youth for years to come.

To learn more about supporting the University of Illinois through gifts of farmland, contact the College of ACES Office of Advancement at 217-333-9355 or or visit