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Spring 1999 Vol.23 No.2
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Gift Acknowledges Professor’s Agricultural Heritage

by Archana Reddy

It has been more than 30 years since Dr. Larry Hansen left his family’s farms near Waterloo, Nebraska. But Dr. Hansen, for 28 years an environmental toxicologist in the College’s veterinary biosciences department, remembers well the words of his grandfathers, Gus Hansen and Chester Ducker: “Take care of the environment and it will take care of you.”

Dr. Hansen recently established the Hansen-Ducker Heritage Account to support research, especially regarding the developmental effects of environmental toxicants. The gift of nearly $30,000 will support veterinary biosciences faculty and graduate students. He said his gift is “an opportunity for me to acknowledge my heritage, which directed me to where I am now.”

Chet and Minnie Ducker

Dr. Hansen's grandparents Chet and Minnie Ducker on their Nebraska farm c. 1952.

Dr. Hansen earned a doctorate in entomology from North Carolina State University. Although he was the first in his family to attend college, he grew up working each summer on family farms that applied scientific principles in a nonacademic environment.

Dr. Hansen learned to respect the soil and to appreciate balance when most people were not thinking much about it. “We were taught about sustainable agriculture before it was a term,” he said, regarding the philosophy of considering the long-term effects on the soil of planting certain crops or applying chemical fertilizers.

“I was taught that it is better to do something physically than to use chemicals,” said Dr. Hansen. On weekends, he can still be seen hand-weeding three acres of pasture where he and his wife, Terry, keep horses southeast of Urbana.


Gus and Lillie Hansen celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary with their grandchildren, including Larry (far right) c. 1960.

He has conducted research for chemical companies, the Food and Drug Administration, Illinois Waste Management Center, and the Environmental Protection Agency. His research focuses on the influence of chemical toxins, such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), on child and endocrine development. In 1995 he received the College Research Award in recognition for quality and quantity of publications, research awards, and outside recognition of his work. 

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