Land Gift Designated as a Wildlife Sanctuary

The Western Illinois University Foundation received a gift of 140 acres of McDonough County land just northwest of Tennessee, Illinois by WIU alumna, Olga "Kay" Kennedy. Valued at $192,400, the land was donated to the University with the stipulation that the property be developed as a wildlife sanctuary.

Olga Kay Kennedy, a 1946 graduate of Western Illinois University, inherited Vishnu Springs hotel and surrounding timberland from her grandparents, Ira and Reatha Post. The Posts acquired that part of their farm property in 1935 and they enjoyed it greatly during their lifetimes. The Posts instilled their passion and enthusiasm for preserving the natural habitat for wildlife and their interest in protecting this sanctuary for future generations to observe and enjoy. Inspired by her grandparent's dedication and commitment to protect the property, Kennedy donated the land to Western Illinois University with terms and conditions that honored her grandparent's wishes.

"My grandfather had a love and a vision for maintaining this naturally beautiful piece of land, said Kennedy. "It is hoped that Western Illinois University will continue to the stewardship role with the primary purpose to preserve the habitat for wildlife. It is rewarding for me to know that others will have an opportunity to enjoy and benefit from this gift while ensuring that my grandparent's wishes will be honored."

To be named in honor of Kennedy's grandparents, The Ira and Reatha T. Post Wildlife Sanctuary will include over 160 acres and the Vishnu Springs property. The property will be used exclusively for charitable, educational, and recreational purposes in the form of a park and wildlife sanctuary or nature area, for the preservation of the plants, vegetation, birds, and animals, which are native to the property.

The acquisition of this land brings obvious benefits to the University and its students. The property is home to many interesting regions, temporary streams and a functioning spring providing food and water for a small pond that would be of great interest to aquatics biology students. The vegetation in the area consists of large white oaks, maples and a number of other assorted species of trees important for providing habitat for a number of bird species making the location ideal ecology and other field courses.

Mr. Post's written words of welcome echo his fervor for preserving the property that will become a wildlife sanctuary. "The spring water and the wonderful world of nature are to enjoy. Vishnu Springs should be left as nature provided it. Leave the flowers, ferns, rocks, trees, birds and wildlife just as they are. That means do not dig or harm anything of any description. No hunting, trapping or killing. Take care of it all and then all will be benefited in the years to come." These words will be permanently inscribed on a plaque that will be placed and maintained on the Vishnu Springs area property as a reminder to visitors of Post's wishes.

"We are extremely grateful to Kay for her generosity in providing this significant piece of property to the Western Illinois University Foundation, said Larry Mortier, Vice President for Advancement and Public Services. The use of this land by our students provides opportunities to apply principles learned in the classroom to an outdoor laboratory setting."

Developments, Newsletter of the WIU Foundation
Issue 16, Fall 2003