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Longtime administrator donates land to UW-Stevens Point

ALBAN – A longtime educator and administrator with the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point has donated 14 acres in northeast Portage County to the UW-Stevens Point Foundation for education and research.

Burdette “Bud” Eagon, of Amherst Junction, donated the town of Alban property along Flume Creek to support the university and its Central Wisconsin Environmental Station.

Eagon retired from UW-Stevens Point in 1984 after 33 years of service.

The Burdette and Sarah Eagon Nature Education Preserve will be managed by the UW-Stevens Point College of Natural Resources, primarily as a CWES environmental education field site. The name honors Eagon and his wife, who died in 2000.

The land, 4 miles north of CWES, will greatly benefit students using the facility, CWES Director Scott Johnson said. It has frontage on Flume Creek, a Class 1 trout stream

that eventually flows into the Little Wolf River.

The land might be used for supervised field trips for children attending youth camps and school-age programs offered by CWES, undergraduate stream studies on Flume Creek, and wildlife observation and study. Possible uses in the future are a hoop house garden and a fruit tree orchard to grow fresh organic produce for CWES’s on-site food service, Johnson said.

“Bud and Sarah have been wonderful supporters of UW-Stevens Point for many years, and this land donation is an outstanding example of their lifelong commitment to education,” Chancellor Bernie Patterson said. “We are grateful for this generous gift and pleased to continue the Eagon legacy at this nature preserve.”

The Eagons owned the parcel for about 50 years. The family planted 3,000 to 4,000 red pines on the property, Eagon said. “Sarah and I were interested in new exploratory things to keep the kids busy and interested in nature. We tromped around looking at flowers and trees.”

The parcel has historical significance. A sawmill powered by a water wheel on Flume Creek operated there in 1876. It included a boarding house, and in 1893, the Alban Post Office was established there. It burned down in 1903. The Eagon children enjoyed exploring the remains of the foundation and vicinity, he said. More recently, he and son Tom harvested wood for heating.

A former dean of what is now the university’s School of Education, Eagon served as vice chancellor of academic affairs. He left a legacy of innovation and international renown. In the 1960s and early 1970s, he made numerous trips to South Vietnam as an education consultant in collaboration with the U.S. Agency for International Development. Among his achievements was establishing the Native American Center at UWSP in 1978. He wrote a grant that led to the migrant worker summer school program in Wautoma in 1965.

All seven Eagon children attended UW-Stevens Point. The Eagons established the Brian Eagon Scholarship in the Biology Department after their oldest son died in a car accident when he was a junior. Granddaughter Sara Schliesmann recently graduated from the university’s College of Natural Resources.