Philander Chase Conservancy works to conserve open space and important natural habitats in a five-mile radius surrounding Kenyon College. The conservancy works with farmers, landowners, environmental groups and government agencies to ensure the rural character of the surrounding area is maintained.

Kenyon College is the only college or university in the country to establish its own land trust. In the mid-1980s, the area immediately surrounding the College was under threat by commercial and residential growth. In response, the College purchased property across from the entrance to the College and established a nature preserve along the Kokosing River. That area became the Brown Family Environmental Center in 1995.

The College formed the Philander Chase Conservancy in 2000 in anticipation of a greater need to protect the farmland and rural nature of the surrounding area.


The mission of the Philander Chase Conservancy is to protect the natural beauty of the farms, woodlands, waters and open spaces surrounding Kenyon College and to preserve the rural character of the region at large.

  • 5,600acres and 66 farms and properties have been preserved in two decades of conservation.

  • River Ways

    More than 5 miles of the Kokosing River are protected by easements secured by Philander Chase Conservancy.

  • 2,100metric tons

    This is the carbon dioxide equivalent removed from the atmosphere by forest land protected by Philander Chase Conservancy.

  • Restful Prairies

    The Kokosing Nature Preserve is the first green burial ground in the nation to be affiliated with a college or university land conservancy.


Rapid commercial and residential growth in the mid-1980s transformed parts of Knox County around Mount Vernon. Many residents became concerned by serious threats to the area’s beautiful scenery, open spaces, agricultural heritage and rural way of life. Kenyon responded by purchasing parcels of land near its campus to create a buffer from over-development. In 1995, the College established an extensive nature preserve along the Kokosing River as part of the Brown Family Environmental Center. Knox County created a comprehensive development plan in 1998 that identified strategies to protect farmland. Recognizing the importance of sound regional planning that balances conservation and development, Kenyon decided to form its own land trust in 2000, the Philander Chase Corporation. Now the Philander Chase Conservancy, the trust remains the only conservancy created by a college or university in the United States.

The Conservancy is named for Kenyon’s founder and first president, Bishop Philander Chase (1775-1852), who chose Knox County as the site for the College in large part because of the area’s rural character. Today, the land trust works with local farmers and landowners, conservation groups, and local and state governments to conserve open space and other important habitats in Gambier and the surrounding area.