In recognition of what he called a “transforming experience,” Curtis Longpine of Hays gave $100,000 to help ensure future geology students at Fort Hays State University are able to experience the same.
The gift from Longpine, co-owner of oil and gas company DaMar Resources in Hays, and his wife, Renee, partially will fund an endowment to offer financial assistance for geology students to attend the geology field camp, the capstone course for the major in which students travel to Colorado and Utah to put everything they’ve learned into practice in the field.
The gift puts the FHSU Foundation over the halfway mark of its $100 million Journey campaign, at $56 million, Jason Williby, president of the foundation, said during a press conference Thursday morning.
Ken Neuhauser, professor of geology and co-director of the field camp, explained the importance of the six-credit-hour course.
“For many different reasons and in my own opinion, geology field camp is the most difficult course at Fort Hays State,” he said.
“We take them out to different places, and they are involved all day long and into the evening, and sometimes after midnight, working on field projects.”
The students work on both team and individual projects throughout several weeks in the summer. Neuhauser has been leading the camp for 38 years.
“You’ve got to be out in the dirt and the bugs and the mud and the cold and all those things you have to deal with daily,” he said.
It can be physically, mentally and emotionally difficult, but it makes a lasting impression, Neuhauser said.
“It’s something they will never forget for the rest of their lives,” he said.
FHSU alumnus Zach Vonlintel spoke of the long days and nights in field camp.
“It’s rough out there,” he said.
“When we got back, I can’t tell you a single person who hated it. It’s something I will take with me to the grave,” he said.
“This was a tough class. It was hard work under bad conditions,” Longpine said of his experience with the course in 1979.
But he also spoke of its lasting impression.
“It’s a transformational experience. It provided me a deeper understanding of geology and encouraged the development of analytical skills,” he said.
Longpine said the university paid all the expenses when he was a student, but now much of that burden falls on the shoulders of the students and their parents.
Neuhauser outlined the costs for the field camp, which include tuition, camping fees and personal items such as tents, sleeping bags, tools and equipment.
“Field camp right now costs a little over $2,000,” he said.
Neuhauser, Vonlintel and Interim President Andy Tompkins all expressed their gratitude for the gift, as well as Longpine’s leadership during Thursday’s event.
Victoria native Vonlintel graduated in May and has been working for DaMar for three years and spoke of his relationship with Longpine.
“We have had a lot of long conversations that didn’t even deal with geology,” he said.
“I hope that I can be there for students like you have been for me. You make me want to step up and be all that I can be.”
“I keep thinking this is what citizenry is all about,” Tompkins said. “It’s upon us to give back and make a difference in people’s lives.”
Longpine is vice chairman of the FHSU Foundation board of trustees and will be its next president. He also served on the search committee for its next president, and as a welcome to incoming president Tisa Mason, designated $20,000 of the gift to the president’s venture fund — which can be used at the president’s discretion for university projects.
Another $20,000 was designated to the FHSU Foundation’s unrestricted account.
According to DrillingEdge.com, a data services platform for the oil and gas industry, as of July, DaMar Resources has 114 wells in 12 Kansas counties.