A Gift Of Timberland

A gift of timberland, whether outright or through your will, provides a unique opportunity to see your land managed and enhanced while benefiting MSU students, faculty and countless others who are touched by Mississippi State University.

The Bulldog Forest was established to receive and manage gifts of land to the MSU Foundation. Our world-renowned professionals in the College of Forest Resources will manage your property as if it were their own. There are a number of potential uses for your land. Among them are:

  • Teaching
  • Research
  • Timber Sales
  • Hunting Leases
  • Recreation
  • Mineral Leases

Proceeds generated from your land may be used to fund scholarships, endow faculty positions, make campus improvements, support programs and activities and provide for professional continuing education within any college or area on campus. You, the donor, may choose to direct your gift in whatever manner you feel led. Donating land to MSU's Bulldog Forest allows donors to leave a lasting legacy in their family name.

Many types of property can be considered for the Bulldog Forest, whether they are existing stands of timber or other properties that can be managed long-term. Prior to acceptance, each tract must be approved by the MSU Foundation Real Estate Team. Gifts may be made in many forms. A brief overview of the benefits of each can be found here.

Andrews Forestry & Wildlife Laboratory Oktibbeha County, 549 Acres.

In this forest, wildlife habitat and timber production are intertwined. Deer, turkey, quail and an array of grassland songbirds fill the land while healthy streams flow along its boundaries.

MSU alumnus Lester Andrews donated the property, which is now part of the university's Bulldog Forest. Andrews grew up in Starkville. His father was an agronomy professor and alumnus of MSU, which was named Mississippi A&M at the time. Andrews, who received a bachelor's degree from MSU in chemical engineering, gave the land to provide research opportunities for scientists and students.

"I am a research scientist, and my father was a research scientist, so it is very gratifying for this land to become a living research laboratory," said Andrews, a chemistry and research professor at the University of Virginia. "Having worked in a laboratory all of my life, I understand the need for research and the desire to demonstrate research discoveries to others."

The property has sentimental value for Andrews. His father bought the property in 1979 and cleared it to farm soybeans. He and his father planted the property in pine trees in the winter of 1989.

"Pine trees flourish on the property, and there is evidence that deer and turkey use the property as well," Andrews said. "A living laboratory seemed perfectly suitable for forestry and wildlife researchers to apply different management techniques and to keep the forest productive."

The 25-year-old pine forest will be separated into areas to demonstrate forest production along with deer, turkey and bobwhite quail habitat.

The pine forest is currently at the age and stage of growth where a final thinning is needed, which provides an opportunity to thin the various areas to different levels and demonstrate how forest can be managed to address landowner objectives.

The first area will prioritize pine production for revenue generation and associated wildlife habitat values. Trees are being thinned from a basal area of 120 to a basal area of 80 square feet per acre, which is a cross sectional area of all remaining trees at breast height. The second area will emphasize deer and turkey habitat with trees thinned to a basal area of 60 square feet per acre, while the third area will be thinned to a basal area of 40 square feet per acre, to emphasize quail habitat.

In addition to thinning, MSU experts will employ a variety of land management strategies including prescribed fire, disking, mid-rotation brush control and a combination of fire and herbicide. They will reserve a control area that receives no additional management.

"One of the great features of this property is that we will be able to look at the volume and value of production on a per-acre basis to determine the differences between the different thinning and management regimes," said Andy Ezell, head of the MSU Department of Forestry. "Obviously, the revenue-generating forest will provide more income. However, the demonstration forest will give us an opportunity to show landowners how different tree spacings can impact wildlife management and revenue. That's invaluable."

Wildlife biologist and associate Extension professor Bronson Strickland is also looking forward to demonstrating different management strategies to enhance deer, turkey and quail habitat and quantifying the economic trade-offs of each strategy.

"There are already wide buffers, or corridors, surrounding the property. Those will be ideal for food plots for white-tailed deer and turkey," Strickland said. "Prescribed burning on the property will encourage native plants to grow, which creates a source of food and cover for deer, turkey and quail."

A road will allow vehicles into the demonstration forest so landowners and managers can view the different management techniques.

The eastern boundary of the property contains a stream edged by hardwood trees. This area will remain untouched to create a streamside management zone and to demonstrate how to manage hardwood trees for both profit and wildlife habitat.

As the forest reaches rotation age, researchers will replant at different times to demonstrate the different stages of forest and wildlife management. Proceeds from the sale of the timber will help fund the demonstration forest and additional university programs for which Andrews has a passion, such as research in soil science, chemistry and music.

"I am pleased to establish a living laboratory in the university's Bulldog Forest, which will also help to fund the things that I really care about," Andrews said. "To know that the land will be managed as a research and demonstration laboratory is something that I am proud of, and I know that my father would be happy about this laboratory on our farm."

Brand Forest Clay & Chickasaw Counties, 2,133 Acres.

The Brand Forest was for many years part of a family farm known as J.T. Brand and Company, and was given to the MSU Foundation in May of 2005 through the estate of Christine Brand. The gift was made in memory of the Brand Family and John T. Brand. The Brand Forest covers 2133 acres in Clay and Chickasaw Counties, and is being used for a variety of activities including hunting leases, row crop farming and tree cultivation. Proceeds from these activities will benefit general university needs at Mississippi State University.

Mortensen Forest Forrest County, 352 Acres.

A 352-acre tract of Forrest County timberland is now part of Mississippi State's Bulldog Forest program and the state's only Army Compatible Use Buffer-designated property.

Known as the Davis and Ann Mortensen Forest, the area is located in proximity to Camp Shelby, and is a joint project between Mississippi State University, the MSU Foundation, the U.S. Army and the Mississippi chapter of The Nature Conservancy, and is made possible through a gift from MSU alumnus and Moss Point native Davis K. Mortensen.

"This is the first privately-funded ACUB site in the state, and our university is extremely proud to be a vital part of this partnership," said George Hopper, dean of MSU's College of Forest Resources.

"Our college is pleased to be in a position to have a dramatic impact by restoring this land to longleaf pine, managing timber resources and protecting the wildlife species dependent on this habitat," Hopper added, addressing the many benefits of the project.

When the private property adjoining the military base became available, a gift from Mortensen enabled the MSU Foundation to acquire the property. Mortensen said he realized he could provide an asset to Mississippi State while helping restore longleaf pine forests and protecting wildlife habitats.

In the ACUB program, the U.S. Department of Defense partners with non-federal programs or private organizations to establish buffers around military installations by providing funding to help facilitate the land purchase. Under the ACUB agreement, The Nature Conservancy holds a working conservation easement on the property, which allows for agricultural uses such as timber production and harvest. The MSU Foundation holds title to the property and will receive revenue derived from timber management and other revenue sources.

For Mortensen, the gift is a natural outpouring of his love for natural resources, students and Camp Shelby, one of the largest state-owned military training centers in the U.S.

Mortensen said he understands the importance of responsible timber management and conservation efforts, as well as the necessity of educating students to be stewards of the land.

"Giving to the university so that students have the means to pursue a college education is very important to me," said Mortensen, a longtime MSU contributor. "I attended MSU on the G.I. Bill and had it not been for that, I would have been unable to attend college due to the cost."

Gober Forest Attala County, 283 Acres.

LaRon and Esther Gober donated 283 acres in Attala County to the College of Forest Resources and the College of Engineering. The Gober's made the gift in honor of the engineering career enjoyed by LaRon as well as the enjoyment they received from the forest land. The College of Engineering and the College of Forest Resources will both benefit from the LaRon and Esther Gober Endowment Fund. "We love the idea of using this land to benefit forestry and engineering students. It was a great way to give back to Mississippi State University," said Esther Gober.

From boyhood in Kosciusko, to his college years at Mississippi State University, then through his career in the U.S. Army anti-aircraft artillery and private sector, Ron Gober stayed true to his belief that any problem could be resolved with a little common sense and creativity. Ingenuity — it is the American way.

Harris Forest Newton County, 430 Acres.

Tom and Page Harris gave MSU approximately 430 acres of timberland in Newton County. The property has been owned by the Harris family since 1932. The College of Forest Resources is managing the property, and funds generated from its management have been used to create two-life charitable gift annuity for the Harris’s. Mr. Harris, the retired president of Harris, Wilcock Timber, is a 1957 graduate of MSU's forestry program.

Future funds generated by the proper management of the timber will be used by the college to establish the Tom and Page Harris Endowment for Forestry Excellence. The land is used as a teaching tool for forestry students and as a demonstration forest for forestry extension activities. Currently, the Harris Forest has been replanted in pine and is being managed according to the CFR management plan.

Hall Timberlands Forest Noxubee County, 245 Acres.

Timberland is a significant part of the Hall legacy. The family has stewarded and carefully harvested its timber for three generations, and now they are entrusting Mississippi State University with their valuable resource.

A 245-acre parcel of timberland in Noxubee County, Miss., has become part of the university’s Bulldog Forest. Known as the Hall Forest, the property will be used as a living laboratory for the students and faculty of the university and for forestry and wildlife research and training. MSU will manage the forest, and proceeds will provide scholarships for students majoring in forestry.

As a third generation timberland management professional dedicated to sustainable forestry, David Hall believes an excellent education is the cornerstone of the timber industry. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Forestry in 1999 and an MBA in 2002, and he puts his MSU degrees to use as he manages Hall Timberlands.

Hall Timberlands is a family-owned business. The company plants and grows timber, which is sold to mills to be processed into pulp, chips, and sawtimber for plywood and dimensioned construction lumber. It also contracts with other companies to harvest and deliver trees to mills. Hall Timberlands currently holds approximately 60,000 acres in Mississippi.

“We maximize real value by maintaining a perpetual, sustainable forest, a diverse canopy of trees, teeming with animals, birds, and clear streams, yielding wood products that provide fuel, shelter, and useful materials,” David said.

Hall Timberlands began when David’s grandfather, Maurice H. Hall Sr. of Bay Springs, purchased his first timberland in 1938. After working as a bookkeeper at a sawmill, he grew pine and hardwood timber in East Central Mississippi. He operated mills in the towns of Shubuta, Meridian, and Gulfport from 1941 through 1965. For three decades, David’s father, Maurice H. Hall Jr., also worked with his grandfather to turn the focus of the business to acquisition, cultivation, conservation, and management. Today, the company is owned by Maurice H. Hall Jr., his sister, Mary Cheek Hall Davis, and their children.

“I do believe it is my responsibility to ensure this treasured family land is preserved for Mississippi State University to use as a living laboratory for learning and research,” David said. Mississippi State University currently has nearly 25,000 acres in its Bulldog Forest program in the College of Forest Resources.

H.K. and J.K. Holloway Reserve Monroe County, 345 Acres.

In September of 2007, the Holloway Family established the H.K. and J.K. Holloway Reserve with a gift of 345 acres in Monroe County, Mississippi.

The family moved to the Amory area in 1887 and established a family store. The area now known as the H.K. and J.K. Holloway Reserve has remained in the family since that time and now the Holloway family is entrusting its care to the College of Forest Resources at Mississippi State University.

The H.K. and J.K. Holloway Reserve will be managed by the College of Forest Resources, and funds generated from the property will be placed in the H.K. and J.K. Holloway Memorial Endowed Scholarship in the College of Forest Resources.

The property is primarily a recreational site and is earning income through hunting leases. A portion of the Holloway Reserve is timbered in plantation pine that will be ready for thinning in the near future.

Col. K.D. Johnson Forest Scott & Leake Counties, 400 / 37 Acres.

One of Mississippi's most highly decorated military men and longtime friend of the university, retired Air Force Col. K.D. Johnson of Ridgeland, established the Colonel K.D. Johnson Endowment of Excellence to be funded with approximately 400 acres of timberland in Scott and Leake Counties. Johnson attended Mississippi State University as an Engineering student before entering the Army Enlisted Reserve Corps in 1942.

The Johnson family has owned the land since his retirement from the military. Serving multiple purposes, the timberland will be a field-based learning resource for forestry students and will generate income from timber harvesting for the CFR. Funds generated from the management of the property and timber harvesting will be used to establish chairs, professorships, scholarships, fellowships, faculty development, procedure equipment, and for general enhancements in the Department of Forestry. Administration within the CFR has established a management plan for the property with the best science-based forestry principles and practices. In addition to the generous gift of timberland, Johnson also established the the Col. Kenneth "K.D." and Catherine B Johnson Endowed Scholarship fund. This fund will support students within the Department of Forestry.

Norma Lea O'Quin Forest Pike County, 127 Acres.

Wayne O'Quin of Galveston owns the approximately 127-acre Pike County farm located five miles east of Osyka. The property is becoming part of MSU's Bulldog Forest Program to be managed as a wildlife habitat by the College of Forest Resources.

A Mississippi State alumnus, the South Mississippi farmland that has been in his family since 1900.

Earnings from the wise management of the land will be placed in an endowed fund to benefit the college. A 1959 chemical engineering graduate, O'Quin long has supported his alma mater with volunteered time and financial resources. In addition to serving as a member of the advisory board for the Swalm School of Chemical Engineering, he has contributed to MSU athletics.

As part of the agreement, funds generated from the property in excess of required management costs will be placed in the Norma Lea O'Quin Endowed Bulldog Forest Fund of the MSU Foundation.

John & Jane Player Property Madison County, 59 Acres.

John and Jane Player donated 59 acres adjoining the Natchez Trace Parkway in Madison County to further walnut research in the state.

The Players also made the initial $1 million pledge during Mississippi State's first capital campaign. The College of Forest Resources received the gift to create the Jane and John Player Endowment to support walnut research and technology development at Mississippi State. The fund was established for funding research and graduate instruction applicable to production of black walnut.

The Players have devoted considerable time, effort, and resources to the growing of walnut trees on their farm in Madison.

Mr. Player, a retired consulting geologist and a 1940 graduate of the University of Colorado at Boulder, began experimenting with walnut trees more than a decade ago as a hobby. He approached Mississippi State to further the project, he said, because of the university’s strong program in forestry.

Phillips Memorial Forest Lafayette County, 223 Acres.

The Elmer and Egbert Phillips Memorial Forest consisting of 223 acres in Lafayette County was donated in 1973 through the estate of Egbert Phillips of Pontotoc County. Mr. Egbert Phillips and his brother Elmer were born in the 1880's to Dr. Moses Jasper Phillips and Martha Ann Susan Phillips. The Phillips brothers lost their parents early in life and went to live with relatives who taught them a special appreciation for the outdoors.

Egbert donated this land in Lafayette County to create timber revenue for the Elmer and Egbert Phillips Memorial Fund, which is a general university scholarship fund. Egbert also donated land for the Boy Scouts' Camp Phillips.

Sharp Forest Tishomingo County, 1600 Acres.

Jack, Mollie, and Kate Sharp of Tishomingo County donated a 1600-acre tract of timber to Mississippi State University, "to assure proper management of the timber stand and to serve as a laboratory for students." Miss Kate Sharp said that it has always been her family's desire to see their timber stands properly managed and supervised. " After long consideration of the matter," she said "we arrived at the conclusion that the timber could be managed for the benefit of young men and women interested in forestry, by placing the land under the control of the School of Forestry at Mississippi State."

The Sharp forest has provided over $900,000 in student scholarships and professorships since the 1970’s.

McGeary Sidon Plantation Leflore County, 2637 Acres.

Willis Durden “Dan” McGeary left Mississippi to follow his dream of becoming a pilot, but he never forgot his connection to his home state or his alma mater, Mississippi State University.

The last surviving member of a prominent Delta family, McGeary willed Sidon Plantation in Leflore County to Mississippi State University. The bequest includes 2,069 acres of farmland and 568 additional acres around Sidon Plantation near Greenwood, as well as one of the oldest homes in Leflore County. McGeary died in 2011 at age 91.

The $8 million bequest of real estate, the largest in university history, is designated “unrestricted,” meaning agricultural lease proceeds from the property will provide an annual source of revenue for MSU as part its Bulldog Properties program.

“Row crops are still grown on the farmland — cotton, corn and soybeans — and we are proud to say our efforts are prosperous each year,” said John Doty Porter, the property’s tenant farmer, whose family has farmed the property since the early 1970s.

Although McGeary deeply appreciated agriculture, he had aspirations outside of farming. He decided at the age of 10 to become a pilot. His dream led him to then-Mississippi State College, where he earned an aeronautical engineering degree in 1940.

After graduation, McGeary was employed with several aircraft manufacturing companies as an engineer before joining the U.S. Army Air Corps. He became an aircraft commander, flying missions in Europe during World War II. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

After the war, McGeary returned to Mississippi and managed the family plantation. He later became a captain for American Airlines, where he worked for 29 years. In later years, he lived in Marina Del Rey, Calif. Although his adventures took him away from Mississippi, McGeary wanted to sustain his legacy in his home state.

“My husband wanted to leave the plantation and farmland to MSU because he felt the university would be good stewards of the property and because of his genuine fondness and appreciation for the school,” said Joy Andresen McGeary, his wife of nearly 18 years.

“Mississippi State University is extremely grateful to Willis McGeary for allowing us to transform his treasured possession into a valuable resource for the students, faculty and programs of the university,” said Jud Skelton, director of real estate giving for MSU’s Foundation. “The gift is remarkable, not only for the level of generosity, but also for the investment in future generations and the demonstration of confidence he placed in Mississippi State.”

J.W. Starr Memorial Forest Oktibbeha & Winston Counties, 8321 Acres.

During the depression of the 1930's, the Federal government accumulated land holdings in Mississippi of which 8,500 acres became the John W. Starr Memorial Forest at Mississippi State University. The University initially managed the mix of old fields and scattered forest as a dairy. This land-use was not successful and by the late 1940's the property was placed under the management of a small group of forestry faculty who became the nucleus of the School of Forestry at Mississippi State University. John W. Starr, a member of the faculty of the School, was instrumental in restoring the property to the productive forest that it is today. He accomplished this feat in a time of minimum fiscal support and very low demand for raw material by a fledging forest industry in east central Mississippi. The school forest was later named the John W. Starr Memorial Forest in his honor.

Pine plantations planted by John Starr matured into forest that have been harvested in recent years. By the early 1990's the forest contained several stands of over mature timber which were harvested to finance approximately $2.9 million of the $12 million required for the construction of Thompson Hall, the new forestry building. However, it should be emphasized that this was a one time cut that removed over mature timber and that the volume that was removed was much greater than the forest's annual growth. Management of the John W. Starr Memorial Forest is self-sustaining. Research and management were combined to maximize use of scarce funds.

Shaw-O'Reilly Property Kemper County, 80 Acres.

In August of 2002, Susan White O'Reilly and Mary Corinne White Shaw gave 80 acres of land in Kemper County to the MSU Foundation. Their grandfather, Raleigh Jack Wilson, was a physician who made house calls throughout rural Kemper County and northern Lauderdale County. He was also a landowner who respected nature and believed in the protection of natural resources and the preservation of life. Susan White O'Reilly and Mary Corinne White Shaw do not know how Raleigh jack Wilson acquired the "duck pond" as the family labeled the property, but when their grandmother died the land passed down to their mother and then to them. Trying to be good stewards of their inheritance, they donated the tract to MSU hoping that it could be used for environmental studies.

Currently the tract is used for research and hunting lease revenue.