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Alumni Offices

Moscow Office

University of Idaho Alumni Office - Moscow
Physical location:
1212 Blake Ave.
Mailing Address:
875 Perimeter Drive MS 3232
Moscow, ID 83844-3232
(208) 885-6154
(208) 885-6975 (fax)

Boise Office

University of Idaho Alumni Office - Boise
322 E. Front Street, Suite 390
Boise, ID 83702
(208) 364-4030
(208) 364-4084 (fax)

Levels of Finding Difficulty

It became apparent early in the fund’s history that certain kinds of finds were more remarkable than others. Thus, we have developed a typology to rate finding quality. At present, we acknowledge five levels of finding success.

Level One - Level one finds are basic to the success of the fund, but require little skill except good observational abilities. Level one finds are discovered in coin returns (phones and vending machines are among the best). They require total commitment since many people view searching in coin returns undignified.

Level Two - Level two finds require unusually keen vision. Often the coins or bills may be expected, but search and some intuitive skill is necessary for success. Counter or coin exchange areas, parking meters or parking lots provide the arena for level two discoveries.

Level Three - Level three finds are highly rewarding since they require excellent peripheral vision and intuition. Ambulatory (walking) finds and auditory finds are considered to be in this category. Moving vehicular finds are also in this category. Centrifugal recovery finds in washing machines represents an excellent level three capture.

Level Four - Level four finds are infrequent because of the circumstance or environmental influence attendant to the find. Examples include night finds, underwater finds, snow or puddle discoveries. Some argue that urinal finds fit here.

Level Five - Level five finds border on the metaphysical. Psychic coin sense (P.C.S.) is rare among finding aficionados. Level five finds are common among only a very few. One sees those individuals as the Zen masters of the FMFI. Not only do they find a lot of money, they “sense” impending finds. Examples are “feeling” that one should cross the street to encounter a lost coin or “knowing” a find is imminent. One might characterize those rare people as “holistic finders.” It is the highest state of finding awareness. Some indications exist that it is possible to develop greater sensitivities to the finding mission and thus, develop a Zen rating. At this time there are only three persons so designated. Because of the extreme modesty and humility concomitant to this level of awareness, their names are not noted here.

Regular vs. Peripheral Finds

As the fund has matured, variations on the central finding theme have emerged. Although the fund purists disparage the thoughts of altering the virtuousness of real found money, there are accepted alternatives. Finds like those illustrated in the degrees of difficulty discussion are termed regular finds; all others are variations on the “peripheral” find theme.

Peripheral finds include the following categories. Since they represent the potential for quickly increasing the fund balance they are welcomed but only quietly solicited. Peripheral finds include:

  • Retroactive Finds - Often we encounter individuals who have never participated in finding. When talking to those people, they often remark that “once I found a__________.” We are quick to respond that they may wish to contribute the find retroactively. Carol Yenni Wilson feels that we should not accept retroactive finds found before the inception of the fund in January, 1981. However, exceptions have been made to this rule for recognition purposes. We also realize that some individuals have a problem known as “finders scotoma” which prohibits active finding – for these people who have unfulfilled feelings for participation, we accept retroactive finds.
  • Commodity Finds - As awareness grew during the 1980s about a quality environment, finders began to speculate about the potential that recyclables could have for the fund. At present, found recyclables such as aluminum cans have become a part of the FMFI operation. Additionally, found articles including clothing, books, pens, and other personal artifacts may be “fenced” for monetary gains. We have access to the University lost and found department and will sell lost articles after a waiting period of two years. Jewelry and other objects are sold to the highest bidder. Textbooks with no names in them are sold at year-end book sales. Commodity finds are significant sources of revenue. FMFI also participates in philanthropy by giving lost glasses to charity.
  • International Finds and Exchange - International travelers who are committed to the fund precepts often return from abroad with found money. We exchange these coins and bills to those who collect foreign money. Transactions are believed to be equitable. Canadian money is “fenced” to realize maximum return.
  • Promotional Finds - Agencies seek recognition by way of gift finds. I have spoken to heritage. Again, Ms. Wilson and other purists are not entirely comfortable with this group who honors the fund with a contribution. One can scarcely turn these award gifts down.
  • Organizational Finds - Campus living groups form the corpus of the organizational finds. Many living groups have lesser officers who are responsible for collecting “finds.” Some of these are in the form of house fines, often for such as slovenly etiquette or swearing. The attached letter suggests that organizations need to be reminded of their finding process.
  • Memorial and Commemorative Finds - Another class of finds difficult to refuse is memorial finds, sometimes called commemorative if given in memory of an event or person. These do not provide a significant yearly benefit to the fund but provide individuals who have departed with an opportunity to appear on the donors role sheet. Lois Griffits, former Argonaut Editor, has described “finds” such as these “Wanna-Be” found money – which perhaps it is.
  • Auxiliary Enterprises - Any great enterprise expands and diversifies over time. The auxiliary services component of FMFI offers short-term loan opportunities for unfortunates. Small emergency loans are provided on request provided change is available at fund headquarters. This is collected but not deposited money. Repayment is accompanied by voluntary interest. Care is taken not to violate State of Idaho usury laws, but generosity is encouraged. Shakespeare admonished to “neither a borrower nor lender be,” but through the loan service, we have solidified new finders.
  • Tricks and Scams - The trick “lost” coin is repugnant but unabashedly accepted. Dull people have super-glued coins to sidewalks, hidden them in unsuspected places (urinals), and otherwise tried to hoodwink dedicated finders. The scammer's lot is particularly egregious, for it is believed they neither find nor lose coins. The famous Greek coin archeological scam perpetrated by Alumni Director Kleffner shall not be reported here, however, we still have the “find.”
  •  Deferrals - Since many of our finders are college students who are short of funds, a find of one kind or another may make the difference between the poorhouse and comfort. The honest finder who reports a find but expresses need may, if he or she chooses, defer payment until sometime in the future. It is believed that this act of deferment reflects the kindness of spirit that underlies the basic precepts of the FMFI.
  • Lithic Finds - A unique find was forwarded to the Found Money Fund of Idaho in 1996. Cofounders Wilson and Armstrong were summoned to the office of Sue Eschen at the University of Idaho Gift Receipting office in May, 1996. There, they were given a short typewritten note along with a check for $5,000.00. The letter detailed support for the fund along with the information that the find amounted to 500,000 pennies found under a rock. The finder, J. Michael Mahoney, has suggested that the same deposit may contain additional finds which he will attempt to locate in the future. The exact nature of these stone or lithic deposits is unknown but represents a clearly beneficial and significant source of support.

Record and Unusual Finds

Over the years, there have been recorded heroic finds of all kinds. Two fifty dollar bills have been reported. Ads in the Argonaut failed to locate the loser, but the students who found and turned in the bills exemplify the honesty inherent in UI students. Large bills are rare and we seek to find their owners. We have record of Zephyr, the husky, who discovered a penny; a two-year old child who discovered a lost coin, and legions of oddball discoveries like the dollar bill in a bush near Memorial Gymnasium. Toilet and urinal finds are common but semi-repulsive to some (the green soap in many public toilets is used to cleanse and disinfect such collections). Unusual finds are common among the Zen master finders but there isn’t much note made of the fact.

Other interesting finds include:
Quentin Walker, a 20 year custodial veteran in the UI residence halls, saved all the pennies he has found while at work in the Wallace Complex. He turned them over to the Found Money Fund in May, 1985. The $94.62 in pennies weighed over 50 pounds. His gift pushed the fund total to over $5,000.00.
The two fourth grade classes at McGhee Elementary School in Lewiston are loyal contributors. They report that they will be keen to know how much has been turned in when they attend the University of Idaho in 1993. They have found over $12.00 so far.

Mabel Locke, whose tenure as professor and head of women’s physical education at the University of Idaho spans the time between 1930 and 1971, is a loyal finder. She presented the fund with a lucky $2.00 bill she found in front of the old women’s gym in 1954. We still have the bill since Mabel insists that it will bring the fund great good luck.

Sister Incarnation, the 89 year old Ursaline nun, blessed the fund with one of her special “green scapulas.” She was a devoted Vandal fan, who didn’t miss a football or basketball game for decades prior to her passing in 1991.

Mrs. Eugene Hart, Boca Raton, Florida, who with her husband enjoyed long evening walks searching for money, sent a $25.00 “retroactive” contribution to the fund in her husband’s memory shortly after his death. She reported that he would have really liked the idea of a found money fund.

Finding Awards and Recognition

Although great finders do not seek recognition, as with all funds, FMFI does reserve the right to give finders of great intrepidity the coveted Bobtail Award for finding excellence. Over the years only 25 individuals have been so designated. The Bobtail is awarded in recognition of Capt. R.D. “Bobby” Bobtail, a retired Marine of dubious and confusing origin. The award is earned for individuals whose finds total $10.00 or more. A copy of the format for the award is attached.

Finding Strategies

The Bobtail recipients offer new finders valuable counsel for achieving finding excellence. Here are a few tips guaranteed to increase status among fund members:
Position yourself between the rising or setting sun and scan across parking lots.
Search around checkout counters. The floor near baseboards often yield good finds.
Always look in coin returns. Always press the coin release buttons first.
Fast food places are commonly excellent places to find money. The areas adjacent to drive-through windows are particularly lucrative.
Couches and overstuffed chairs in the larger hotel lobbies are excellent places to look. Care must be taken not to gouge oneself on sharp upholstery tacks inside the couch or chair. This is a significant place to locate level two (tactile) finds.
Metal detection systems are appropriate and valuable methods of finding.
The personal joy of finding money is manifest in eight ascending levels of affect. These are:
Sensing or becoming aware of a find (thinking or dreaming about a good find). Silver or a bill is especially rewarding.
Seeing the find – presents immediate release of dopamine in the ventral tegmental region and the nucleus acumbuns. These are the pleasure centers in the limbic lobe of the brain.
Reporting and recording the find – the ritual of discussing the find is personally rewarding.
Discussing finds future and present.
Discussing the investment prospectus.
Discussing future uses of the fund.
Realizing the joy of philanthropy utilizing some unknown person’s cash.
Joy of tradition, UI support, and the thought of providing assistance to future generations of Idaho youth.


Without a cadre of losers, there could be no finders, so certain practices are encouraged among those who never find anything. We encourage them to:

  • Wear bulky clothing and ear muffs or headphones.
  • Carry loose change with a huge wad of keys on a single chain. When the chain is removed from the pocket it is possible to rake out lots of cash.
  • Recognizing that over $300,000.00 is lost each day (news report, 1990). We urge people to hurry, don’t look down, practice paranoia, and always carry coins.
  • Repeat often: “I hate these darn pennies.”
  • Feed parking meters when hands are very cold.
  • Don’t count personal change.
  • Of course, losers should be encouraged to feel good since their largesse is the bulwark of the fund. In this way “losers win.” Actually, everyone wins.
  • It is unfortunate but true that it is necessary, on occasion, to urge recalcitrant finders to “remember” to turn in their finds. Known as the Delta Strike force, agents around the world provide the conscience to those who may forget to turn in finds. Delta Strike agents representing a broad spectrum of stakeholders are located in virtually every community in the world. They stand ready to report finds that may be forgotten. The training protocol for these UI ambassadors is demanding but rewarding. Fitness, intelligence, and integrity are prerequisites for the coveted designation of Delta Strike surveillance agent.