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Katharine Ordway Chair of Ecosystem Conservation

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Katharine Ordway Preserve (Western Putnam County, Fla.)

The Katharine Ordway Chair in Ecosystem Conservation was created at the UF Florida Museum of Natural History in 1980 as part of a large grant from the Goodhill Foundation. This gift was matched by the State to endow an Eminent Scholar Chair named in honor of Katharine Ordway, the 3M Corporation heiress who founded Goodhill.

Katharine Ordway is a familiar figure in land and ecosystem conservation. Ordway was born April 3, 1899, the only daughter of five children. Growing up in St. Paul, she enjoyed the tallgrass prairie which has slowly disappeared. She attended the University of Minnesota and graduated cum laude with degrees in botany and art. She also attended Yale Medical School and Columbia University to study biology and land-use planning.

When her father, former president of 3M, died in 1948, she and her four brothers were left a sizable estate. In her 50s and 60s, she had the resources to reinforce her beliefs in land protection and eventually became one of the greatest private contributors to natural area conservation in American history.

In addition to the Ordway Chair, Goodhill provided funds for the UF Foundation, Inc., to purchase several thousand acres of upland pine sandhills in rural Putnam County that came to be known as the Katharine Ordway Preserve. Goodhill established a maintenance endowment for the Museum to manage this tract as well as the adjacent Swisher Memorial Sanctuary through a joint stewardship agreement with The Nature Conservancy. In 2005 management responsibilities passed to the UF Department of Wildlife Ecology & Conservation and later UF was designated as the managing body for both properties. The 9,100-acre tract was renamed the Ordway-Swisher Biological Station in 2006.

Click here to visit the website of the Ordway-Swisher Biological Station.

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