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Innovation and Inspiration: The Campaign for Kansas State University

Nancy and John Blackwell

Nancy and John Blackwell created an estate gift to aid students in the College of Agriculture.

Within moments of talking with John and Nancy Blackwell, you'll know they like to have fun. But the Blackwells have a serious side, too — they are serious about helping students complete their education at Kansas State University.

John, a farmer, attended K-State before the Vietnam draft called him away, and when tuition was "a heck of a lot cheaper." Nancy taught school and special education throughout her career in their hometown of Larned, Kansas. Though neither of them graduated from the university, they are enthusiastic K-Staters, and Nancy even claims to have more purple in her closet than most people!

The Blackwells' experiences as a farmer, a teacher and in the K-State family have shaped their commitment to help where needed. In creating the Blackwell Family Student Opportunity Award in Agriculture, they have committed an estate gift toward helping support students in the College of Agriculture who find themselves at extreme financial crossroads and who are in need of immediate help to stay in school.

"I like the K-State PROUD concept [of Student Opportunity Awards] and John wants to focus on the College of Agriculture because he's a farmer," Nancy says. "We wanted to make it simpler for someone to ask for the $75 they need for a project or emergency. Emilie [the Blackwells' development officer] came up with an idea to implement the PROUD concept at the college level and create a student award that could be awarded at any point throughout the year to help students with dire needs."

The Blackwells have worked to send their family to college and K-State. They know how far a little bit goes when supporting students. In addition to this estate gift — of naming K-State through the KSU Foundation as an insurance policy beneficiary — to create the Blackwell Family Student Opportunity Award in Agriculture for future students, they also plan to give $1,000 each year that can be awarded today.

"A lot of times we see the big gifts K-Staters give, and we want to tell people that every little bit helps," John says. "You don't have to give millions of dollars to make K-State a better place."

If you are interested in helping to make K-State a better place by naming the university in your will or estate plan, contact the Gift Planning team at 785-775-2000 or