Students will long reap the harvest from Virginia’s Garden

The retired forestry professor at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Walt Bagley still lives here at Prairie Pines Arboretum.

The birds are loud this morning in May as Walt Bagley, 94, sits on a backyard bench.

Virginia’s Garden.

Those words are etched on the bench.

The retired forestry professor at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln still lives here at Prairie Pines Arboretum, the 145 acres of land just east of Lincoln that he and his late wife, Virginia, gave to the University of Nebraska in 1992.

This was their labor of love, he says. For five decades together, they planted trees and shrubs and native grasses.

He smiles.

“I’ve told people I’ve traded in my spade for a cane.”

Bagley feels good knowing that the gift will continue to help University of Nebraska students and faculty do research long after he’s gone. He feels good knowing that, down the road, school kids in the community can come out here and experience the native grasses and nature, the birds and the critters, the wind in the trees like it is this morning – strong enough to make the arboretum sound like the ocean.

He feels good knowing the end of their love story: When he dies, his ashes will be scattered here, too, like Virginia’s.

And that their gift of this land to the University of Nebraska will lead to a new beginning for it.

This year, the University of Nebraska Foundation celebrates its 75th anniversary. The Bagleys’ story is just one of many great stories over the years of how the foundation has helped make donors’ dreams come true for the good of other people.

What dreams do you have? Contact the foundation’s Planned Giving staff at 800-432-3216.

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