WEST LAFAYETTE — Purdue University’s Department of Agricultural Economics recently received a $1 million gift from Columbia City natives for an endowed chair dedicated to farmland economics.

Rex and Lori Schrader, R.D. and Holly Schrader, Roger and Shelly Schrader, and Fred and Judy (Schrader) Geyer and Schrader Real Estate and Auction Company Inc. pooled their resources together to provide the gift.

“The Earth is the Lord’s and therefore we want to take care of it,” said Judy Geyer. “That is very important to our family.”

Purdue awarded the donors with the President’s Council Pinnacle Award, which is given to donors of more than $1 million to the university.

The university will hire a full-time professor to fill the Schrader Chair, as the school currently does not have many staff members dedicated to farmland economics. The new focus could potentially include research into farmland values, forecasting, value and rent dynamics, investment, attributes and land improvements, land-use restrictions, public policy and finance, ownership, management, historical strengths and delivering this information to stakeholders.

“We had parents that gave, and we want to continue to give,” said Judy. “Giving is not a today thing, it’s part of our life.”

Schrader Real Estate and Auction is a successful agricultural real estate and auctioneer business. It was founded in 1944 by Kendallville residents Denzil and Betty Schrader. The company has since expanded into more than 40 states over the last 74 years, and is currently licensed in 29 states with the ability to secure licensing in any state.

The company focuses on selling farm, timber and recreational land, commercial sales, farm equipment auctions, fertilizer equipment marketing and antique and estate sales. Schrader Real Estate and Auction Company Inc. holds 200 to 250 auctions every year and exceeds $250,000,000 in annual real estate auction sales.

The Schrader Real Estate and Auction Company Inc. presidency was passed from Denzil to Whitley County native Rex Schrader in 1967, with R.D. Schrader succeeding Rex Schrader a few years ago.

The Schraders’ gift will be matched through the College of Agriculture Endowed Chair Challenge Matching Gift Program, totaling $2 million in funds for Purdue’s agriculture department development.