Building Today For Tomorrow
WHY I GIVE
Continuing the tradition of FarmHouse, remembering a loved one, giving back to something that changed your life…each day we hear a new reason you chose to make a gift to the FarmHouse Foundation. Share your reason by emailing us.
Every generation leaves behind a legacy—an heirloom, family photo albums or a farmstead. These tangible gifts are tied to more than their substance, they are filled with memories, lessons, losses and accomplishments—intangible experiences and values.
Making a lasting impact and good stewardship led Ralph Harrison (Oklahoma State 69) to make a unique investment with the FarmHouse Foundation, a gift of mineral rights from the land his family has cared for through multiple generations.
In 1896, Ralph’s great-grandfather came to the Great Plains in a covered wagon and settled in north central Oklahoma. “My family farmed and ranched that land. All the land is multigenerational,” he said. Ralph grew up on this same land as generations did before him. Land his family cultivated and has taken care of for over a century. “We grew up with an appreciation for the land, we’re all closely tied to it. We look to make sure it’s taken care of.”
Farmers and ranchers know this call. The feeling of working on land passed down through the generations, each investing blood, sweat, tears and joys. More than the hard work, it is a fertile ground for out-of-the-box thinking as well as deep-seated values.
As a freshman at Oklahoma State University (OSU), Ralph found some more fertile ground for his growth and development. “My FarmHouse experience was so positive, it brings many fond memories. It was one of the best times of my life. My FarmHouse brothers have continued to be friends to this day. Being associated with high achievers makes a person shoot higher. It made me seek out more.”
Even then, Ralph knew there were challenges. “I was at OSU from the fall of 1968 to 1972. Even then our chapter house was well-worn and it went on to be used for another 40 years. You don’t select a fraternity based on the house but with the chapter’s long record of accomplishments, it needed a house to match.”
Just as his family’s land has become multigenerational, Ralph has seen his fraternal values in FarmHouse become multigenerational. “In addition to the friendships I have from my undergraduate experience, I’ve seen my son and now my grandson be members and flourish. It keeps granddad interested and involved.”
For the building experiences in his life, Ralph credits not only his experiences on his family’s farm and ranch, he credits his FarmHouse membership and his wife, Denise. “Although Denise and I had not met during my time at FarmHouse, she has become a strong supporter of FarmHouse and the values it stands for. With our son and grandson both being members of FarmHouse, she has witnessed first-hand why FarmHouse is known as ‘Builders of Men’.”
Seeing the continued benefit of FarmHouse motivated Ralph to give. “I wanted to share that with others. I’ve given to the new FarmHouse chapter house at Oklahoma State. I want to see the experience go on for other young men.”
Oklahoma State FarmHouse built a new house in 2012, which cost $8.8 million. The newer and more spacious living-learning chapter house accommodates 88 members, more members than the house Ralph lived in could. While the campaign to build the chapter house was successful, a new capital campaign is underway to pay down the mortgage debt and support the ongoing maintenance of the chapter house.
To keep funding and to provide housing for those same experiences today and tomorrow, Ralph chose to make a living legacy for FarmHouse from the natural resources passed down to him. “It was a win-win,” shared Ralph. “North central Oklahoma has seen a boom. Mineral rights here have greatly appreciated in value over the past decade. Had I sold the rights and given the proceeds, we would have had a big chunk lost to pay taxes. By giving the mineral rights directly to the FarmHouse Foundation to sell, FarmHouse gets 100% of the value.”
Ralph’s gift of mineral rights made last November is the first of its kind for the FarmHouse Foundation. Ralph points out that this type of gift not only applies to mineral rights but other types of property such as land, stocks and commodities. “If someone is inclined, they ought to consult with their attorney, CPA and the Foundation.”
“When I first spoke to Allison Rickels with the FarmHouse Foundation, she made it very easy. While the Foundation hadn’t received a gift of mineral rights before, it worked out very well and it was an easy process.”
Today his gift has been put to work for his chapter’s living-learning facility through the Oklahoma State Building Fund. Ralph also added, “The decision to make a contribution to the FarmHouse Foundation has really been a joint decision by both my wife and myself.”
Ralph’s living legacy makes an immediate impact today but the ripples reach far. This legacy is seen in how he pays his FarmHouse experiences forward and how he and his family have cared for the land.