Stuckmans leaving a planned gift legacy

Noel Stuckman and Sandra Clarkson Stuckman have documented a planned gift that will help ensure the viability of MSU for the future.

Noel Stuckman and Sandra Clarkson Stuckman, of DeWitt.
Noel Stuckman and Sandra Clarkson Stuckman, of DeWitt.

Noel Stuckman and Sandra Clarkson Stuckman, of DeWitt, have each been donors to Michigan State University and the Michigan 4-H Foundation for decades – even preceding their marriage in 1999. 

Over the years, their annual gifts have supported the MSU Spartan Fund, the MSU College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) Department of Agricultural, Food and Resources Economics, the Doris Wetters Endowed Fellowship Fund and a variety of 4-H programs including state and county 4-H endowments, Kettunen Center and the Michigan 4-H Children’s Gardens. They are also donors to the MSU Horticulture Gardens, Wharton Center and WKAR.

“We want those organizations to continue,” Sandy said. “That’s why we give – because we care about the results of these programs for people. And that’s the basis of our philosophy for philanthropy.”

Their annual charitable contributions have been through a variety of outright methods including cash, pledges, appreciated stock, qualified charitable distributions from IRAs and in-kind gifts of property.

Most recently, the Stuckmans have documented a planned gift that will help ensure the viability of CANR and 4-H for the future.

“We had been giving cash gifts regularly, and as we got older we thought we had to get more organized in our approach, and it was time for an estate plan,” Sandy said.

A planned or deferred gift is a donation that is arranged by the donor, typically through a will, trust or estate plan, to be allocated at a future time, often after the donor has passed away. Planned gifts can be funded with cash, equity or property through a variety of gift vehicles.

“I was an MSU Extension staff member when I set up an endowment at the 4-H Foundation for 4-H leadership and community service,” Sandy said. “In addition to giving to that regularly, we have a planned gift that will go there when we’re both gone. I was an Indiana 4-H member for 10 plus years, and part of my career was with 4-H. I was a regional supervisor and was the acting state 4-H leader, so 4-H has been important in my life growing up.”

In addition to growing the Stuckman 4-H Endowment Fund, their planned gift will also support the Doris E. Wetters Fellowship Fund, the Wharton Center Endowment Fund, the Stuckman Endowment Scholarship in Athletics, and it will provide CANR graduate student support in agricultural marketing and economics.

Each of these funds were driven by Sandy and Noel’s passions. They are season ticket holders for MSU football, basketball and hockey and routinely enjoy performing arts at Wharton Center. They also have a desire to give back to programs, and to honor people, which made a difference in their lives.

“Doris Wetters was very much a mentor to me, providing my first career stop,” Sandy said. “Doris established an endowed fellowship fund to support folks in family living education and home economics for professional development. There are a number of us who support that fund because she was so pivotal in our careers.”

Sandy received her bachelor’s degree from Purdue University. She then came to Michigan State University for her master’s degree after working for Cornell Cooperative Extension for six years. She began her MSU career as an MSU Extension home economics agent, later serving as a regional Extension director and then director of Michigan 4-H Youth Development from 1991 to 1998. Under her leadership, the Michigan 4-H China Project and the 4-H Chinese Art Exchange were established; she oversaw the official opening of the Michigan 4-H Children’s Garden; and she was a strong partner through the Kettunen Center Vision 2021 project. During her tenure as state 4-H leader, she also served as trustee and secretary of the Michigan 4-H Foundation Board of Trustees, and in 2014, she was elected Michigan 4-H Foundation honorary trustee.

Both Sandy and Noel grew up as 4-H members in Indiana. Noel received his bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics at Purdue University. He had a career with Michigan Farm Bureau affiliate companies. Noel was instrumental in founding the Michigan Agricultural Cooperative Association, and served as that organization’s general manager until his retirement in 1990. He played a central role in developing landmark marketing-bargaining legislation in Michigan that became a model for other states, and served as a leader in the MACA national bargaining conference.

“4-H was a part of my life,” Noel said. “My first project was a 4-H Victory Garden – World War II home garden. Then my projects grew into livestock, Berkshire hogs, Ayrshire dairy cattle, county fair, state fair, hogs to the International Livestock Exposition in Chicago.

“I believe that 4-H has a great future,” he continued. “That’s why we’ve decided to direct our money to the Michigan 4-H Foundation. It does a lot of great things, it’s a great support group for 4-H and we believe in it.

“An estate plan is flexible – we can change it as time goes on,” he said. “It’s a working document, and we hope to be around many years to work on our plan.”

During this capital campaign, Sandy and Noel have been members of the Leadership 10 – a group of 10 couples who have provided leadership for the Campaign for Michigan 4-H’s Future, a part of the university’s Empower Extraordinary campaign. They were lead individual donors to the county 4-H endowment match pool and co-hosted an event at Cowles House to help grow the match pool. They also helped lead a successful endowment campaign in Clinton County including hosting a kickoff event at the Stuckman farm. Sandy and Noel were also honored for their service to and support of CANR and 4-H with the CANR Distinguished Service Award in 2018 and the Michigan 4-H Citation Award in 2016.

“We really feel privileged to be in a position to do what we’re doing. And, though it takes time, there is satisfaction to know that we’re going to help student athletes at Michigan State. We’re going to help 4-H youth. We’re going to help future grad students,” Sandy said. “There is satisfaction in knowing that what you worked hard for and what you’ve accumulated is going to benefit people in the future.”

Sandy and Noel’s planned gift also qualified them as members of the MSU Landon Society. This donor society is dedicated to recognizing and honoring alumni and friends who have remembered Michigan State University in their estate plans.

“Our comments may reflect that we had these plans in place all these years. It really has evolved over time,” Sandy said. “It is satisfying once you get there and sign the document and know it’s going to help people in the future.

“The most important thing is to start the conversation, no matter where you are in life, and see where the conversation can go. Never feel that it is too early to start the conversation. The staff are very good at helping you think through options and what you might want to do,” Sandy said.

If you are considering a planned or special gift, contact ANR External Relations at (517) 517-355-0284 or by e-mail at To learn more about CANR giving opportunities, visit  

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