Meeting in Temple, October 20 to 23, 2008, the SPJST Supreme Lodge voted unanimously to assist the SPJST Education and Nature Center (ENC) in its efforts to secure a $1.5 million loan and/or line of credit for the SPJST ENC at Cooper Farm. Final loan approval will be subject to various internal processes as well as compliance with applicable state regulations.
The action was preceded by an ENC presentation delivered by SPJST ENC Board Member Ronnie Pflughaupt of Lodge 1, Fayetteville. Preliminary ENC plans provide for the construction of six large cabins with a maximum capacity of 180 people, director’s house, staff housing, kitchen extension, high ropes course, low ropes course, archery course, riflery course, and swimming pool.
“We’re very pleased with the progress that the ENC Board of Directors has made since the Convention,” says Supreme Lodge President Brian Vanicek. “I envision our partnership in the Cooper Farm project bringing new vitality and depth to our entire fraternal program. As Walt Disney said, ‘If you can dream it, you can do it.’”
Existing facilities at Cooper Farm include a large, fully furnished meeting hall, three large activity buildings, maintenance building, business office, green house, and drip irrigation system. Two ponds at Cooper Farms allow for research of waterfowl and fish. Plants grown at the on-site greenhouse have been used to improve area habitat and test sites at Cooper Farm. Twenty-three acres of 182-acre Cooper Farm are woodlands.
Delegates to the 30th SPJST Convention in June 2008, voted for the SPJST Supreme Lodge to lend its support to the SPJST ENC in developing the SPJST Education and Nature Center project. Located approximately 70 miles east of Austin, near Fayetteville and La Grange, Cooper Farm will serve as the base of operations for the SPJST Education and Nature Center. The SPJST ENC is in the process of acquiring the property through a long-term lease agreement with the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA). Cooper Farm previously served as a site for research and education where LCRA demonstrated ways to better manage and protect area wildlife.
In recent weeks, SPJST ENC Board Members have been meeting regularly and at Cooper Farm addressing a range of issues related to development of the project, including working to build partnerships that will help the ENC to achieve its goal of establishing a topflight education and nature center.
Contact Phone Numbers: Jeb Lapeyrolerie
Main Number (979) 249-5674
The SPJST ENC Cooper Farm
2001 Waldeck Road in Ledbetter, Texas 78946.
LCRA acquired Cooper Farm in the early 1980s as part of a larger lignite-mining operation for the Fayette Power Project in La Grange. The mining operation did not materialize, and LCRA developed the property into a demonstration site with a mission to provide significant value to Fayette County landowners through its conservation and education programs.
In 2008, SPJST ENC signed a lease agreement that specifies that SPJST ENC will operate Cooper Farm in a manner consistent with the farm’s mission, which is "to develop people’s connection with the plants, animals and habitats of Central Texas through educational and recreational opportunities." Specifically, this means SPJST ENC will provide summer camps for youth and programs for schools and other groups throughout the year. Cooper Farm will remain a venue for community activities and programs and for wildlife conservation demonstration and education. This will be accomplished in part through a partnership with local wildlife cooperatives and Extensions.
Specifically, this means SPJST ENC will provide summer camps for youth and programs for schools and other groups throughout the year. Cooper Farm will remain a venue for community activities and programs and for wildlife conservation demonstration and education. This will be accomplished in part through a partnership with local wildlife cooperatives and Extensions.