A $1.5 million donation to the Wyoming Stock Growers Land Trust will bring new opportunities to aspiring ranch families and raise awareness about the tools available to aid in the generational transfer of Wyoming’s ranchlands.
After Georgene Hager LeBar passed away in 2009, her family liquidated a portion of her assets and made charitable investments in some key Wyoming non-profits. The Stock Growers Land Trust is among the beneficiaries and will put the dollars to work developing its Ranchland Succession Program.
“Georgene believed in helping people help themselves,” says Dylan Hager, LeBar’s nephew. Dylan and his wife Erin are overseeing the contributions made from the Georgene Hager Family Fund and directing the investments to causes they know Georgene would have supported. The $1.5 million contributed to the Ranchland Succession Program is the largest single donation the Trust has received to date. In keeping with Georgene’s life philosophy, the money will be used to help young and beginning ranchers help themselves.
“She provided Dylan with the foundation he needed to continue ranching,” says Erin Hager. “We want to provide a similar opportunity to other young producers and hope to use the Ranchland Succession Program as the vehicle for that opportunity.” “Through Georgene’s hard work, foresight and generosity, our mission to facilitate the transfer of Wyoming farms and ranches to the next generation just earned a hand up,” says Mantha Phillips, chair of the Stock Growers Land Trust Ranchland Succession Program Committee.
“The Land Trust will work with a number of organizations developing and utilizing new tools ranging from traditional agricultural loans to special programs for young and beginning producers,” says Stock Growers Land Trust Executive Director Pam Dewell. “Conservation easements, mitigation funds and conservation leases will be used to raise capital and/or reduce fair market value, resulting in a package that is mutually beneficial for both retiring ranchers and up and coming ranch families.”
In accordance with the family’s wishes, the Georgene Hager Family Fund will be used repeatedly through revolving loans. More importantly, the donation will serve as the lead gift in the multi-year, multi-million dollar program. A key component of the program will be expanded outreach specifically targeted at tax professionals and estate planners. Additional bequests of real estate and other planned gifts to support the Ranchland Succession Program will be sought, opening the doors of opportunity for aspiring agriculturalists.
The Ranchland Succession Program will formalize and expand on the priority the Stock Growers Land Trust Board of Directors placed on generational transfers beginning in 2010. Over the past several years, a solid track record of assistance to families working to pass generational operations along to a new generation of producers has been established, building on a very successful conservation easement acquisition program.
Dewell says the Stock Growers Land Trust plans to have program guidelines and an application process in place for the Ranchland Succession Program by the end of the calendar year.
“We are very grateful to Georgene, her nephew Dylan and his wife Erin, along with Georgene’s accountant and long-time friend Dave Kreycik for their efforts to sustain ranching in Wyoming,” says Phillips.