This is the biggest gift in the history of UT Martin.
GERMANTOWN, Tennessee – The University of Tennessee at Martin received the biggest gift in its history on Thursday, June 24, when Melanie Smith Taylor and her family announced that Wildwood Farm in Germantown, Tennessee, would transfer to the university at its dead. The donation will allow UT Martin to increase educational program offerings in veterinary health technology and other agricultural disciplines in the near future. The donation will also provide UT Martin with the opportunity to collaborate with the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture.
The announcement was made during an early evening ceremony outside one of the two grand entrances to the 1930s Great Barn at Wildwood Farm. UT President Randy Boyd, UT Chancellor Martin Keith Carver and Taylor, the 1984 Olympic gold medalist in equestrian sports, were among those who made the official announcement. The donation will provide educational opportunities in animal husbandry and horse riding, plant and soil sciences, environmental management and natural resource management. Initial programming will focus on adding a cohort for veterinary health technology.
The farm includes 350 acres of mixed pasture and mature oak woodlands surrounded by dense residential development. The large barn was completed in 1935 and has become the hub of equestrian history in the Mid-South. Originally built as one of the nation’s top American saddle horse show stables, Wildwood has evolved into the setting for many equestrian events.
The farm was originally chosen as the site for the National Steeplechase Tour and the US Open Polo Championship. The property has served as a world-class training ground for polo ponies, hunters, riders and pleasure horses. In March 2017, Carnival Memphis presented Melanie Smith Taylor and Wildwood Farm with a joint award of excellence “in recognition of outstanding achievement and service to the sports industry and the Mid-South community”.
The relationship between Wildwood Farm and UT Martin began in 2015 and led to the announcement and plans for the future of the property. The plan responds to Taylor’s vision of preserving the farm in its current state and honoring the Taylor family while providing a benefit to students studying all agricultural disciplines. The farm will be used in the same way as the UT Martin educational farm located next to the main campus of the university. Wildwood Farm will remain as it is and provide a much needed agricultural science teaching and demonstration hands-on laboratory in Shelby County.