Kettunen Center

Michigan 4-H Foundation sells Kettunen Center; proceeds create two new endowments and reserve fund

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Kettunen Center

The Kettunen Center sale was finalized in November 2021. The proceeds will establish two new endowments to support 4-H and create a reserve fund for the Michigan 4-H Foundation.

On Nov. 18, 2021 the Michigan 4-H Foundation sold the Kettunen Center property to Bais Chabad of Kalkaska, Inc., a religious youth organization which previously leased the center for a youth camp during summer 2021.

A full-service conference center in Tustin, Mich., Kettunen Center was the first 4-H volunteer and youth training center in the nation, owned and operated by the Michigan 4-H Foundation from 1961 to 2021. The center permanently closed its doors July 1, 2020, after the Michigan 4-H Foundation board agreed that closing and selling the facility was in the best interest of the nonprofit organization.

“We know and understand that Kettunen Center was near and dear to the hearts of many within our Michigan 4-H family,” said Sheila Kneeshaw, Michigan 4-H Foundation president. “This was a very difficult decision for the board to make. However, given the compounding issues of the pandemic, selling was in the best financial interest of the Michigan 4-H Foundation.”

“The Michigan 4-H Foundation remains committed to supporting Michigan 4-H programs, including 4-H volunteer training and learning experiences for youth,” she continued.
Appraised at $1.5 million, the Kettunen Center property was sold for $1.7 million. Located on Center Lake with 2,000 feet of water frontage and 137 acres, the property comprised three main buildings (split into five lodges with 72 lodging rooms and 13 meeting rooms), a full-service kitchen and dining hall, and a private earth-sheltered residence situated on 2.47 acres of the property.
Realtor, legal fees and debt from the center is estimated to total $885,000. This leaves approximately $815,000 in net proceeds which the Michigan 4-H Foundation Board of Trustees voted to allocate as follows:

$250,000 to create the A.G. Kettunen Endowment.
The A.G. Kettunen Endowment honors the legacy of Arne G. (A.G.) Kettunen, whom Kettunen Center was named after, and will continue to subsidize and expand upon the types of 4-H programs historically held at Kettunen Center. The earnings from the fund may support statewide 4-H learning experiences, training, events and other Michigan 4-H strategic program priorities. A.G. Kettunen served as Michigan state 4-H leader from 1925 to 1956 and incorporator of the Michigan 4-H Foundation. He envisioned a site where 4-H could grow through the training of its volunteers and members and this endowment continues to support that vision. In 1956, the Michigan 4-H Foundation acquired 137 acres in Osceola County and launched its first major fundraising campaign to construct “Camp Kett” (renamed Kettunen Center in 1972). Although A.G. Kettunen didn’t live to see his dream made real, the center continued to bear his name.

$250,000 to create the Michigan 4-H Foundation Operational Endowment.
The Michigan 4-H Foundation Operational Endowment is an unrestricted endowment to support the general operations and other areas of greatest need for the Michigan 4-H Foundation. The fund earnings may be used to ensure that the foundation can meet its budgeted operational expenses and may also provide support for Michigan 4-H strategic program priorities.

These two funds are established as board-designated endowments, or quasi-endowments, which are funds functioning as endowments. These funds are intended to be perpetual, where the principal or corpus of the fund is invested and the income is used to provide annual support.

$315,000 to the Michigan 4-H Foundation Reserve Fund.
The remainder of the net proceeds, calculated to total about $315,000, pending any post sale expenses and the final repayment of the COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL), will be allocated to the Michigan 4-H Foundation Reserve Fund. This fund is a safety net to cover unforeseen expenses and the areas of greatest need for the Michigan 4-H Foundation. One of the key goals of the foundation’s strategic plan is to grow this reserve fund to a level equivalent of one year of Michigan 4-H Foundation expenses to ensure against a 23% market drop on the endowment corpus value. The amount of 23% was selected as this is the largest drop our corpus has seen during down market times.

“We look forward to continuing, and growing, our long-standing relationship between the Michigan 4-H Foundation and Michigan 4-H,” said Jake DeDecker, state leader for Michigan 4-H and associate director for MSU Extension Children and Youth. “These investments will provide a source of long-term financial stability and growth, for not only the Michigan 4-H Foundation, but also for Michigan 4-H Youth Development. This will provide a new, continual pool to help support our signature 4-H programs like 4-H Exploration Days, Capitol Experience and 4-H workshops, as well as ensure support for youth and volunteer training and strategic program priorities for Michigan 4-H.”

Prior to the sale, historical 4-H and Kettunen Center items of significance were donated to either MSU Archives or the 4-H History Exhibit at the MSU Museum. Additional items are on display at various locations on the Michigan State University campus, including the China Art mural which is now on display in Wells Hall. The sponsored bricks from Kettunen Center have been relocated to the Schoolyard Demonstration Garden at the Michigan 4-H Children’s Gardens. The Michigan 4-H Foundation President’s Wall is now displayed in the hallway leading to the MSU Extension Director’s Office on the fourth floor of the Morrill Hall of Agriculture.