Research ranch now includes bunkhouse, multipurpose area

Brigham Young University's 9,000-acre Skaggs Research Ranch in Southern Idaho will now include a 3,000-square-foot bunkhouse and multipurpose facility donated by founders Sam and Aline Skaggs.

Elder L. Tom Perry of the Council of the Twelve and a member of the BYU Board of Trustees presided at a "rope-cutting" ceremony Oct. 14 at the ranch that was attended by Mr. and Mrs. Skaggs.In his remarks, Elder Perry paid tribute to the Skaggs family by recounting its history in the development of a retailing empire. Then he praised Mr. and Mrs. Skaggs for their worthwhile gift.

"You see a need and the gift is made to satisfy that need," Elder Perry said. "This ranch is among the many examples we could use of how you focus your gifts. You are concerned about one of our basic institutions – that of the family farm – losing its ability to compete in a very complex world.

"The family farm has long been the very foundation of our nation. It has long taken care of our basic needs for nourishment. But more than that, it has been the primary source of building men and women who have experienced the value of learning honesty and industry – two fundamental values which are absolutely essential for our well-being.

"Sam and Aline, when your generous gifts are made, there is a purpose to improve the lot of our Father in Heaven's children here on earth. We accept this gift, with an obligation attached to it that through the research performed here, the family farmer will find techniques and processes to make his efforts become more fruitful and productive, and to make it possible for him to better compete in a complex world in order that the solid foundation of the family farm will always be with us. It is a part of our heritage we cannot lose."

Appropriately, a lariat rope and wire cutter replaced the traditional ribbon and scissors for the dedication ceremony, noted Max V. Wallentine, director of BYU's Agricultural Station.

Sam Skaggs, president of American Stores, and Aline Skaggs donated the large parcel of farmland near Declo, Idaho, to BYU in 1984 with a challenge to create a "living ranch" to help train the next generation of ranchers and farmers. They made additional grants of land and cash in 1991 and 1992.

"The Charles Redd Family initially made a major cash contribution to the ranch, and many other individuals and companies both in and outside of Idaho have donated cattle, cash, equipment, custom services and construction labor for roads, corrals and buildings," said Wallentine.

BYU students interested in careers in agriculture will now have a comfortable residence from which to explore 20th century farming methods.

The new 14-room, L-shaped bunkhouse can house up to 50 students, with male and female dormitories and lounges, a cookhouse-multipurpose area that can seat up to 130, and storage areas.

Significant changes in the American farm structure have necessitated the residential facility on the ranch. "Farms in America are becoming larger and fewer, and more and more of our students have not had practical farming experience," said the agricultural station manager. "The Skaggs ranch provides a place where our students, both men and women, can get hands-on experience in ranch management training."