Today I am blogging from the 5th Virus Evolution workshop at the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation in Ardmore OK. Also present is fellow blogger Abbie Smith of ERV. The talks have been excellent, the accommodations sumptuous and the grounds striking. This is clearly a high class outfit. In fact the Noble Foundation is Oklahoma's largest foundation and one of the 60 largest private charitable foundations in the United States. Apparently the Noble Foundation has an almost 1 billion dollar endowment . Where did this money come from? I've heard an interesting story. Apparently the Noble Family owned farm implements company. They sold farming tools to farmers on credit. Unfortunately for the farmers, disaster struck in the 1930s. The region was stricken by the catastrophic drought later known as the Dust Bowl. Unable to grow crops, many of the farmers defaulted on their debt and the Noble's came into possession of a large amount of Oklahoma's land. Lloyd Noble, who was a major player in the oil business, later started the foundation in honor of his father and dedicated the foundation to the betterment of the lives of Oklahomans. Today, the foundation provides ~60 million a year in grants for scientific research as well as hosting a campus devoted to the study of forage improvement, plant biology and agriculture. I'm not sure how true the story is since I've been unable to find corroboratory evidence but it is pretty interesting nonetheless.