The University of Nebraska-Lincoln on Wednesday announced a $1 million gift from the Kimmel Foundation to support an initiative to build a state-of-the-art Nebraska Equine Sports Complex on East Campus.
The $4.5 million equine facility, which will be built near the Nebraska Veterinary Diagnostic Center and include a barn, large and small arenas, exercise round pen, classrooms, offices, a wash bay, lockers and outdoor runs, comes as interest in equine programs and sports is on the rise, particularly among 4-H youth, in the Cornhusker State.
Tiffany Heng-Moss, dean of UNL's College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, said the complex would become "a destination for students across the state and beyond who are interested in equine sports."
It would also expand experiential learning programs, provide a unique teaching and learning facility, and connect youth and extension activities to campus, Heng-Moss added.
UNL's equestrian program is "a growing strength" of Nebraska Animal Science, said Clint Krehbiel, head of the animal science department, who added the facility would deliver high-quality teaching and learning for all ages, backgrounds and cultures.
"We are also excited for the impact this facility will have on our competitiveness in equine sports and student recruitment," Krehbiel said.
Along with academic programs such as colt training and equine reproduction, the facility would also become the practice space for the University of Nebraska Rodeo Association and UNL's Equestrian Team.
The Richard P. Kimmel and Laurine Kimmel Charitable Foundation has been interested in the project for two decades, particularly how it could also serve the Nebraska High School Rodeo Association and Nebraska 4-H, said Ernie Weyeneth, the foundation's president and treasurer.
"This is about having a facility dedicated to the heritage of equine training and sports here in Nebraska to serve young people from every part of the state," he said. "It's really all about our young people -- the next generation of equine professionals and enthusiasts."