Leu Ranch boosts hands-on skills for NCTA Aggies
University of Nebraska receives $1.5 million Hayes County ranch for education, research and outreach
CURTIS, Neb. - The University of Nebraska–Lincoln and the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture in Curtis announced Thursday the university has received a gift of 2,147 acres of ranchland in northeast Hayes County.
David Scholz and his late wife Sande Clark Scholz made the gift valued at nearly $1.5 million through the University of Nebraska Foundation for education and research purposes.
“Through this extremely generous donation, David and Sande Scholz are giving NCTA students access to the kinds of hands-on, experiential education that is impossible to replicate in a classroom,” said Mike Boehm, NU vice president and Harlan Vice Chancellor for the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources. “This gift represents the ultimate laboratory for NCTA students, and their experience will be richer – and Nebraska’s agricultural workforce will be stronger – as a result.”
A portion of the gifted land was originally acquired by Frank B. and Mabel (Wray) Leu in 1902 through the Homestead Act. Over the years, the Leu family, including Frank B. Leu’s siblings, acquired adjacent land for cattle ranching and dryland farming.
Sande (Clark) Scholz, an alumna of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, was granddaughter to Frank and Mabel Leu and lived on the ranch until the age of 5. She had good memories of time with her grandparents on the ranch, even after moving to North Platte where to attend school and later graduate from North Platte High. She inherited the Leu property through the estate of her mother, Grayce (Leu) Clark.
In honor and recognition of the Leu family’s pioneering spirit and longtime stewardship of the land, the university will seek approval of its Board of Regents to name it the Frank B. and Mabel Leu Memorial Ranch.
“It was a special property to Sande because of her grandparents,” said David Scholz, also a Husker alumnus who now lives in Fort Collins, Colorado. “We discussed that using the land for educational purposes would be a way to honor her grandparents and the many others of that generation who settled in Western Nebraska — the ranchers who pioneered there and worked so hard.”
Aggies to manage range, cattle herd
NCTA Dean Larry Gossen said: “On behalf of our campus community in Curtis and the surrounding region, we are excited to honor the wishes of David and Sande Scholz by preserving the Leu family’s ranching history as an outdoor learning laboratory emphasizing range management and beef cattle production. The educational opportunities this gift provides NCTA and our Aggie students are significant.”
Scholz said it’s rewarding to know the ranch will now be used as an educational facility to help students learn various aspects of ranching, including the care of cattle, keeping ranchlands, managing healthy and productive pastureland and more.
“Both Sande and I believe in education and particularly vocational education,” Scholz said. “And in talking with the university over the years, we discussed that a lot of young people who are interested in farming and ranching don’t necessarily come from this background, so they don’t have an opportunity to grow up and learn on a ranch or a farm. By enabling the university to have the ranch for use in their teaching curriculum, it gives students an opportunity to learn so many aspects of ranching.”
NCTA has plans in partnership with the University of Nebraska Foundation to raise funds for enhancements at the Frank B. and Mabel Leu Memorial Ranch. This could include a meeting facility for students, guests and faculty as well as improvements needed for the care of livestock such as water supply and corral.
About Frank B. and Mabel (Wray) Leu
Frank B. and Mabel (Wray) Leu were married in 1901 and first lived in Danbury, Nebraska. They were parents to three boys and two girls. Their daughter, Grayce (Leu) Clark, was the mother of Sande (Clark) Scholz.
The Leus valued education and made certain their children attended the Nebraska School of Agriculture in Curtis, which is now NCTA. Grayce graduated from NSA in 1930. The children also went on to attend other schools of higher education in Nebraska, including the University of Nebraska.
Frank B. Leu was born in 1877 in Saunders County and died in North Platte, Nebraska, in 1975. Mable Leu was born in Culbertson, Nebraska, in 1881 and died in North Platte in 1957.
About David and Sande (Clark) Scholz
David Scholz and Sande Clark met while attending the UNL. Sande studied psychology and social work at UNL and graduated in 1963. David Scholz studied electrical engineering and graduated in 1964. The two then moved to New York to attend graduate school at Columbia University where Sande received a Master of Social Work, and David Scholz received an MBA and Juris Doctorate.
The couple married in 1965 and moved to the Chicago area where they established their careers and raised their sons Brian and Daniel.
David enjoyed a longtime career with Commonwealth Edison, the electric power company serving Chicago and northern Illinois. Sande served as a social worker for various organizations, including the Institute for Juvenile Research and Illinois Children’s Home and Aid Society. She later spent many years as a social worker with the River Forest, Illinois, school system. Sande died in 2019 at age 78.
About the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture
Part of the University of Nebraska system, the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture is a two-year institution with a statewide mission of preparing students for successful careers in agriculture, veterinary technology and related industries. NCTA is known for its affordable tuition, high job-placement rate for its graduates, and for the success of student teams in competitive activities including crops judging, ranch horse events, livestock judging, shotgun sports, stock dog trials, and intercollegiate rodeo. The college is consistently ranked as one of the best two-year schools in the nation.