The donation of a 45-acre ranch in Northern Arizona will help the University of Arizona expand its newly established Veterinary Medical and Surgical Program, university officials said.

The Steele Foundation, which focuses some of its philanthropic efforts on education, announced July 21 it will award the organization’s DK Ranch in Cornville to the University of Arizona, providing the university with a permanent footprint in Northern Arizona.

The university will gain the ability to expand its programs in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, with a focus on the newly established Veterinary Medical and Surgical Program, university officials said in a news release.

Following a two-month proposal process, The Steele Foundation made the decision to award the more than $2.5 million property to the University of Arizona on the basis of several stewardship factors, including the school’s existing partnerships within the Verde Valley and a desire for the property to remain agriculturally focused, Steele Foundation representatives said.

With the addition of the DK Ranch to the school’s property portfolio, the university has determined every student in the Veterinary Medical and Surgical Program – the state’s only public program to date – will be able to live on the property for at least six weeks to complete rotations on ranch management, riparian ecosystems, wildlife medicine and management, sustainable land and water management practices, human resources management, community relations, ranch economics, human-animal interdependence, welfare and well-being, and public health issues, university officials said.

“Our schools and departments will utilize DK Ranch to complement existing programs at the UA and to create new ones specifically related to the region,” Shane Burgess, Vice President of Veterinary Sciences and Cooperative Extension and Dean of the University of Arizona College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, said. “The DK Ranch allows us to offer experiential learning and research opportunities to our students, and to those attending Yavapai College, providing unparalleled access to state-of-the art facilities, while also promoting a seamless transition for these students into the UA program following their associate’s curriculum.”