Founder Raymond Plank
acceptance of things as they are, fear, or lack of self-confidence."
-- Raymond Plank
Raymond Plank graduated from Yale University in 1944 with a Bachelor of Arts degree. Returning to his hometown of Minneapolis from World War II combat duty as a U.S. Army Air Corps bomber pilot in the South Pacific, Plank formed with two partners an accounting, tax and small business advisory service. Through this enterprise, he became familiar with the types of investments then being offered in oil and gas exploration and production. Recognizing that investors' interests in this field could be better served through a different concept, Plank founded the Apache Corporation in 1954.
Apache Corporation offered its first oil and gas exploration program in 1956. Under Plank's leadership, Apache has grown to be one of the nation's largest independent oil and gas exploration and production companies. Today, Apache operates in seven countries, has assets of more than $19 billion and reserves of 2.1 billion barrels of oil equivalent. Plank retired from Apache in 2009.
An oil discovery in Wyoming's Powder River Basin in July of 1967 brought Plank frequently to the state and a vision for the Wyoming future began to form. Plank reflected, "Shouldn't extraction companies and individuals put something back? Could restoration of historic buildings in the foothills of the Bighorn Mountains render those sites as relevant to people in the future as they had been a century earlier? Could the environment, open lands and natural beauty be preserved and enhanced through stewardship?"
These and other questions were raised first of a task force group, early co-investors, and ultimately the Trustees of the Ucross Foundation. The Foundation's future relevance was to be based on three functions:
- An artists-in-residence program to enhance and support the work of artists from around the U.S. and abroad
- A small conference center for educational, community and state conferences and retreats, together with corporate planning sessions and attendant recreation in an area rich in beauty, wildlife and the traditions of the West
- Land stewardship integrated with ranching in the open spaces of the Ucross Ranch.
All three of those functions were brought to fruition, and now, in 2008, Raymond Plank's vision continues to thrive. Plank remains a national leader in civic, educational, business and conservation-related activities. He founded the Fund for Teachers (www.fundforteachers.org), which provides summer travel and enrichment grants to kindergarten through 12th grade teachers. To date, the Fund for Teachers has provided grants to 3,500 teachers who have studied and traveled in 110 countries on all 7 continents. Through Plank's vision, Springboard – Educating the Future was established to build schools for girls in Egypt. Two hundred schools have been completed. For more information, visit www.springboarded.org.
Plank most recently established the Raymond Plank Professorship of Global Energy Policy at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, to advance teaching and research in the fields of global energy. He served as chairman of the Wyoming Futures Project and co-chairman of Minnesota Wellspring, was a founding member of Freedom Lift and Friends of Mesa Verde, and a member of the Denver Art Museum Board of Trustees.
Plank has been a trustee of Carleton College where Apache established the Raymond Plank Chair in Incentive Economics, and is past chairman of the University of Minnesota Foundation. He was a founding member of Stakeholders in America and the American Energy Assurance Council.