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Blinn Board of Trustees approves naming the Ann Gardner Livestock Annex in honor of longtime Washington County resident

The Gardner family developed and owned the world-famous Willow Springs Ranch

The Gardner family developed and owned the world-famous Willow Springs Ranch

May 19, 2021

The Blinn College District Board of Trustees approved the naming of the College’s newest agricultural sciences building in honor of Ann Gardner.

In conjunction with the Blinn College Foundation, longtime Washington County residents James F. and Ann Gardner Arens have pledged $375,000 to the Blinn College District in support of this building and Blinn’s Agricultural Sciences Program. In recognition, the board approved the naming of the Ann Gardner Livestock Annex.

The 6,000-square-foot facility opened in February 2020, allowing additional space for hands-on learning activities while accommodating the continued growth of agricultural sciences course offerings at Blinn. Located at 1403 Old Mill Creek Road beside the W.J. “Bill” Rankin Agricultural Complex, the building includes a livestock demonstration room, tack room, farrowing house, livestock pens, and a livestock chute.

“The Blinn College District is honored to name its livestock annex in honor of Ann Gardner and to recognize the proud ranching legacy of the Gardner family,” said Dr. Mary Hensley, Chancellor of the Blinn College District.

Gardner grew up in Houston spending all her weekends, summers, and holidays at the family ranch near Burton, Texas. The daughter of Dr. Hermann Gardner, a world-renowned clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Baylor College of Medicine, and LeNan Briggs Gardner. The Gardners established and owned the world-famous Willow Springs Ranch, one of five ranches that developed the Brangus breed of cattle and introduced Coastal Bermuda Grass from Florida to the State of Texas. The family also owned and operated Willow Springs de Costa Rica.

Gardner showed early signs of artistic prowess at age 4, drawing people and their interactions with horses. While attending Greenbriar College in West Virginia at age 15, Gardner joined the Art Club and was awarded outstanding artist. Upon graduation, she attended the University of Texas and later enrolled at the Texas Academy of Art. She became an illustrator for several major oil companies and a well-known sculptor and artist. Gardner was a nominee for Texas State Artist of the Year for her sculpture depicting the strength of a woman trying to corral cattle.

The Blinn College Foundation serves as a separate, charitable organization in support of the Blinn College District. Its mission is to provide financial support for programs and activities that enhance the quality of education for Blinn College students and expand educational opportunities for communities throughout the Blinn College District. Led by the Board of Directors and Chair Sam Sommer, as well as Executive Director Susan Myers, the Foundation supports the College by generating private and corporate gifts for scholarships, academic programs, student activities, campus buildings, and special events. For more information regarding the Foundation and its life-changing work, please visit

“Through the naming of the Ann Gardner Livestock Annex, the Blinn College District honors the talented Ann Gardner, the incredible achievements of the Willow Springs Ranch, and recognizes a dear and generous friend,” Myers said.

“The support of the Foundation, its Board of Directors, and friends such as Dr. James F. and Ann Gardner Arens has helped Blinn to offer its students an affordable educational experience unlike any other in the nation,” said Leighton Schubert, Executive Vice Chancellor. “We appreciate all they do to help make our dreams for the future a reality.”

The board also elected new officers. Jim Kolkhorst was elected Chair, Dr. Dennis Crowson was elected Vice-Chair, and Charles Moser was elected Secretary.

In other action, the board:

  • accepted the district-wide facilities master plan,
  • approved updates to Leroy Dreyer Field on the Brenham Campus,
  • and authorized the College to negotiate and execute a contract for the purchase of computers to be used in the science, technology, engineering, and innovation building under construction at the Brenham Campus.

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