Love for agriculture spurs farmland donation to the College of ACES

Vaughan Hedrick gestures to the "The Holmes Farm" dedication sign, denoting its gift to the University of Illinois Urbana-Champagin..
Vaughan Hedrick donate her share of the “Holmes Family Farm” in Bement, Illinois, to the College of ACES.

You don’t have to be an alumnus of the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) to be an enthusiastic supporter. After learning about the college and its mission, Vaughan Hedrick, of Pensacola, Florida, decided to donate her share of the “Holmes Family Farm” in Bement, Illinois.

Hedrick said she hopes to foster more research on farming practices that would have less impact on the land and to encourage more young people to stay in farming or go into farming. Her generous donation of farmland to the College of ACES, part of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, is doing just that. 

Hedrick graduated from Vanderbilt University with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in biology, then received an MBA from the University of Cincinnati. She went on to work as a third-generation paper company employee for 20 years. She relocated across the country six times for her job before settling in sunny Florida, where she retired and currently resides. 

Throughout her entire career and into her retired life, her family farm has been an underlying thread keeping her connected to agriculture. Although her daily life is not spent farming, Hedrick strongly believes in the value, goodness, and long-term impact of caring for the land. After inheriting a share of the family farm, founded in 1909, Hedrick has worked closely with the farmer who cultivates the land to stay involved in its evolution and keep up to date on cutting-edge sustainable agricultural practices. 

Hedrick has thoughtfully planned for her assets to be donated to nonprofit organizations, including the forward-thinking, nature-preserving Conservation Fund. She wanted her family's farm to benefit a similar consequential cause. After a trusted resource suggested that Illinois' current and future students might greatly benefit from her farmland, she finalized her donation. A few months later, she hopped on a plane to familiarize herself with campus and visit her farm. 

During her visit in October 2023, she was impressed by the competent people she met, the beautiful campus, and the prairie nearby. ACES’ mission of furthering sustainable agriculture resonated deeply with Vaughan, and she was assured that her farm is in great hands while providing an invaluable resource for future generations. 

The proceeds from Vaughan’s farmland gift will be put toward scholarships and the continued improvement of ACES and its programs. 

The College of ACES is the grateful beneficiary of more than 6,000 acres of farmland, held collectively by the university and the University of Illinois Foundation. Income from the ongoing operation of gifted farmland serves as a perpetual funding source to support the college’s land-grant mission. To learn more about gifting farmland and other ways to give, contact the University of Illinois Foundation.