Carl S. Swisher began purchasing land in the late 1920s through his death in the early 1970s
and for 50 years used the tract as their private hunting and fishing preserve. At his death he had amassed almost
25,000 acres. In 1979 the Swisher Foundation approached
The Nature Conservancy for assistance in establishing a
wildlife sanctuary as a monument to the late tobacco industrialist, Carl Swisher. Two tracts of land, totaling
3000 acres of wetlands and prairies, were donated to The Nature Conservancy. The acreage was named the Carl
Swisher Memorial Sanctuary.
In early 1980, the Goodhill Foundation awarded a grant to the
University of Florida Foundation, Inc., to
purchase approximately 6,000 acres of upland high pine sandhills from the Swisher Foundation. This
acreage was to be preserved in the name of Katharine Ordway, the 3M Corporation heiresses who founded
Goodhill. A conservation easement was placed across the Ordway tract to secure its protection
in perpetuity. Both tracts were contiguous and so The Nature Conservancy agreed to lease the Carl
Swisher Memorial Sanctuary to the University of Florida Foundation, Inc., and both organizations
signed a joint stewardship agreement for the combined properties. The facility was to be operated
as a field station to further the study and conservation of unique ecosystems.
In 2006, The Nature Conservancy transferred their ownership of the Sanctuary to UF. In order to more
clearly identify the facility's use and purpose, the
University of Florida Board of Trustees
renamed the facility as the Ordway-Swisher Biological Station that same year. Additional lands have
been added over the years to OSBS for the purpose of maximizing conservation protection and increasing
research and education opportunities.