GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Over the past year, Kim and Danny Sams and The Walt Disney Company Foundation Matching Gift program have created a new opportunity for animal sciences students specializing in equine science to learn and grow in a hands-on learning environment at the UF/IFAS Department of Animal Sciences Horse Teaching Unit (HTU) in Gainesville, FL.
The Sams-LeFils Round Pens are a result of the generous giving of Kim and Danny Sams along with The Walt Disney Company Foundation Matching Gift program. UF has a long-standing relationship with the Disney Conservation Fund. Kim worked for The Walt Disney Company for the past 31 years and has served the Director of Strategic Philanthropy and Corporate Citizenship for the past seven.
Through her passion for the UF/IFAS College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) and her service with Disney, Kim and Danny were able to foster a relationship leading to a gift that will affect the lives of animal sciences students for years to come. The Sams have also pledged their support as members of the CALS Dean’s Circle, a giving society that provides the CALS Dean with resources to meet the college’s highest priorities.
“The number one reason that we support CALS is because of the amazing Dean,” Kim said. “Dr. Turner has been the most caring person and you can see that she cares about every single student and her faculty.”
The Sams’ daughter, Avery, and son-in-law, Bernie, both attended UF/IFAS CALS and were heavily involved in student programing. Their involvement fueled Kim and Danny’s support for UF/IFAS CALS programming.
“We love horses, we love UF, and we love our daughter,” Kim said. “It’s a way to honor our daughter and son-in-law and leave some sort of a legacy.”
Located three miles south of the main UF campus, the HTU is the primary educational and outreach venue for the Equine Sciences Program at the university. The 65-acre facility welcomes a variety of programs that support equine and livestock programming, programmatic research, private meetings/events, and the program’s annual Sale in the Swamp.
The Sams’ attribute the success of the project to a team effort and collaboration between Disney, the Sams family, and faculty members like Joel McQuagge and others who worked to make this vision become a reality.
“The Sams-LeFils Round Pens will make an amazing difference to our teaching, research and extension programs. In the past, we have had to cancel or postpone horse activities due to rainy weather and unsafe footing,” said McQuagge. “Now we have an opportunity to work under a terrific cover that provides protection from the elements and shade on those hot Florida days.”
Kim is also a member of the UF Foundation National Board’s Philanthropy Committee and the UF/IFAS Special Help for Agricultural Research and Education (SHARE) Council. Kim said she also encourages others to get involved where they can because you never know how your gift can change a life.
You can join the Sams family in supporting student programing and UF facilities at the UF/IFAS Department of Animal Sciences by clicking here https://tinyurl.com/ANSFund. For more ways to support the department, please contact Katherine Davies at firstname.lastname@example.org or 352-294-7869.
—Shelby O. Thomas, UF/IFAS