$18 million gift benefiting LLCC agriculture program announced

Proceeds from Kreher Farm Perpetual Charitable Trust will transform and grow college’s ag program

Officials of the Lincoln Land Community College Foundation today announced that the college’s agriculture program is the beneficiary of a late farm couple’s charitable trust.

“On behalf of current and future LLCC agriculture students, it gives me great pleasure to announce that the LLCC Foundation will be the recipient of annual earnings from the Kreher Farm Perpetual Charitable Trust, with total assets of $18 million,” said Karen Sanders, executive director of the LLCC Foundation.

The gift will be used to transform and grow the LLCC agriculture program.

“This morning we celebrate the outstanding generosity of Irene and Charles Kreher and their belief in agriculture,” said Bill Harmon, LLCC agronomy professor and ag program coordinator. “The Kreher’s gift is beyond ‘once in a lifetime,’ it’s in the realm of ‘I can’t believe this is really happening.’”

He told the crowd at the announcement ceremony, “The Kreher’s desire was that agriculture be promoted in various ways, to the benefit of – first and foremost – students, along with farmers and the community as a whole. This support will enable us to meet the needs of our growing and diverse student population and provide relevant, up-to-date curriculum on the latest technology in state-of-the-art facilities and environments. These funds will not replace current support by the college … but rather ‘grow’ the agriculture program, increasing the number of students served, increasing local job opportunities filled with qualified LLCC grads, and improving agricultural literacy in our communities, ultimately designed to make LLCC a center of excellence in agriculture education.”

Harmon said the trust also directs the LLCC ag program to implement an education program on the Kreher Farm. “We are honored to play a role in growing this program that brings full circle their shared fondness of agriculture and the land Charlie and Irene Kreher loved. Our mission is to have LLCC be the first choice for potential agriculture students, with a goal to double our enrollment by 2020. Additionally, we want to be the agriculture leader for businesses seeking new employees.”

Don Wienhoff of Quorum Consulting, trustee for the charitable trust, shared more about the Krehers and their commitment to agriculture. “During the years of discussion with Charlie and Irene, talks of ‘donations’ always seemed to center around three things: local, kids and agriculture. This is how we ultimately arrived at LLCC being the perfect beneficiary. Charlie and Irene loved farm life, raising corn, soybeans and Angus cattle. After Charlie’s tragic death in 2009, Irene began to explore ways to memorialize his legacy. She was familiar with LLCC’s excellent agriculture program and was a strong believer in education. After visits to campus and extensive talks with Bill Harmon, Karen Sanders and President Charlotte Warren, she decided LLCC was where she wanted the Kreher legacy to reside. Irene passed away a little over a year ago, and I know would be extremely happy and proud to know this gift will have such a positive and long lasting impact on generations of ag students and the ag community as a whole.”

“LLCC has begun the process of transforming the agriculture program,” said Harmon, who now is in charge of day-to-day management, strategic planning and student advising in addition to teaching agriculture. “We are in the process of hiring a full-time program specialist, who will help recruit potential students, as well as expand our partnerships with local ag related community businesses and agencies to identify opportunities for employment. We will continue to explore the viability for new program offerings in ag, as well as growing our nationally recognized livestock judging team, headed by Professor Craig Beckmier. Students will be conducting research projects under the guidance of Professor Rich Teeter as part of our overall plans. We have initiated discussions on offering LLCC agriculture classes to nearby high schools … (and) to help promote the program, vehicles such as the car outside emblazoned with ‘LLCC Agriculture’ will transport students and staff to events, as well as serving as rolling billboards.”

Harmon added, “We will be expanding the student experience by incorporating the latest technologies such as a combine simulator so students can practice before operating actual machinery to improve skills, safety and self-confidence, and the latest drones so that we are using the same type used in industry for precision agriculture.” He said students will also benefit directly from the Kreher gift through increased scholarship offerings, and the LLCC Agriculture Club, the largest student group on campus, will expand its participation in statewide and national contests.

Harmon noted the timeliness of the gift and expansion of the ag program. He cited a Purdue University report that predicts that the U.S. will need 57,900 new workers in agriculture, natural resources and environmental sciences, but that U.S. colleges and universities will only produce 35,400 qualified graduates to fill them. He said this national trend holds true in central Illinois as well, providing many employment opportunities for graduates.

Dr. Charlotte Warren, president of LLCC, expressed the college’s gratitude and noted its agricultural roots. “We are ever grateful for the generosity of community friends who believe that LLCC and our students are worthy of their investment. Agriculture is deep-rooted at LLCC. We were founded by a group of farmers, among others, and agriculture was one of the original programs we offered. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to recognize a gift that will continue that storied history for the agriculture program and that will impact the lives of so many people.”

LLCC ag student and Livestock Judging Team member Dominic Ruppert of Witt, Ill., who assists on the six-generation family farm raising cattle and showing prize winning pigs, said he was inspired by his LLCC professors to pursue a career in ag education. “LLCC provides so many opportunities to build a strong foundation for a young person’s future … I am ecstatic that our LLCC ag program is receiving an amazing gift. I know that it could not be put into better hands. While the ag program here is already great, I believe that with this generous contribution, LLCC’s ag department will be seen as a premier ag program. To the donors and those who made this gift happen: thank you for making an impact. Thank you for being a champion of education. Thank you for believing in us!”

Also recognized at today’s ceremony were LLCC Board of Trustees Chair Dennis Shackelford, Vice Chair Wayne Rosenthal; LLCC Foundation Board Chair Tim Schroeder and Vice Chair Todd Wise; Bob Stuart, legal counsel with Brown, Hay and Stephens; and Larry Hardy, investment advisor with Morgan Stanley.

LLCC’s agriculture program offers an associate in science degree in agriculture, designed for students planning to transfer to a four-year college or university to complete a bachelor’s degree. For students preparing to enter directly into the workforce, LLCC provides two-year associate in applied science degree programs in agri-business management, horticulture and precision agronomy/fertilizer, as well as certificate programs in fertilizer, agricultural watershed management and landscape design/turf management.

More information is available at www.llcc.edu/agriculture.

LLCC Recital Series features Brickhouse Brass and Blackwater Strings March 25

Free performance, 4 p.m., Trutter Center

The Lincoln Land Community College Recital Series will feature a Chamber Music Recital with Brickhouse Brass and Blackwater Strings on Sunday, March 25 at 4 p.m. in the Trutter Center on the Springfield campus, 5250 Shepherd Road.

The Brick House Brass Ensemble consists of Wil Adams, trumpet; Vince Camille, trumpet; Austin Wilson, horn; Jason Waddell, associate professor of music at LLCC, euphonium; and Tom Philbrick, tuba. The ensemble will be performing a variety of Brass Quintet literature including classical selections and popular brass selections.

The Blackwater Strings Ensemble is comprised of Ashley Peterson Rescot, violin I; Mary Gamble Lueking, violin II; Rachel Gamble Helton, viola; and Chet Lord-Remmert, cello. The ensemble will be performing classical quartet selections with fate-based themes by the composers Schubert and Beethoven.

All LLCC Recital Series performances are free and open to the public. Upcoming recitals include:

Sunday, April 8 – LLCC Choir Concert, 4 p.m., Trutter Center

Wednesday, May 2 – LLCC Student Honors Recital, 7 p.m., Menard Hall, Room 2250

LLCC Agriculture Club competes at state PAS conference

College bowl team wins first place for second year

Twelve Lincoln Land Community College Agriculture Club members competed at the Illinois Postsecondary Agriculture Student (PAS) Organization spring conference held at LLCC Feb. 9. Students from seven community colleges and universities participated in contests designed to test their knowledge and readiness for their future careers.

The LLCC college bowl team (pictured at right) of Dalton Johnston (Virginia), Mason Gordon (Springfield), Adrian Austin (Springfield), Dalton Litterly (Elkhart), Ryan Steinkamp (Springfield) and Austin Dennison (Virden) won first place. This is the second year in a row that LLCC has had the winning college bowl team at the state conference. Dennison also placed third individually in the ag education contest.

LLCC’s soil specialist team of Joshua Fischer (Arenzville), Shane Eggimann (Taylorville) and Morgan Gum (Tallula) won second place, with Gum placing third overall as an individual. The soils specialist team of Maddie Ray (Pleasant Plains), Liz Bland (Eldred) and Josie Goebel (Harvel) took fifth place.

The teams will now travel to the National PAS Conference in Louisville, Ky. in March where they will compete against teams from 18 states.

PAS aspires to be the premier leadership and career development organization serving college agriculture students, providing opportunities for individual growth, leadership and career preparation.

Learn more about LLCC’s agriculture programs and club at www.llcc.edu/agriculture.

LLCC Foundation Board elects officers; welcomes three new members

The Lincoln Land Community College Foundation Board of Directors elected new officers, welcomed three new members and recognized outgoing board members at a recent meeting.

Tim Schroeder of Springfield was installed as board chair for 2018. Todd Wise of Springfield was elected vice chair, and Ronda Folkerts of Springfield was elected treasurer.

The following are new members of the board:

Bill Fleming of Litchfield is the executive vice president of LBT Bancshares Inc. in Litchfield. He holds an associate degree from LLCC and a bachelor’s degree in physics from Missouri Baptist College.

Brett Jackson of Springfield is president and chief executive officer of Systemax Corporation. A Pleasant Plains native, he spent one year at LLCC before transferring to Western Illinois University to major in economics. He also serves his community as a member of the Heartland Credit Union and Kidzeum boards.

Neil Jordan of Springfield is senior loan officer and vice president at First National Bank of Raymond in addition to working and managing his family farm near Farmersville. He received his bachelor’s degree in agribusiness from Illinois State University while gaining summer credits at LLCC. Neil is also active in the Waggoner Centennial Players.

Outgoing board members Jason Barth, Pam McClelland and Steve Mundhenke, all of Springfield, were acknowledged for their dedicated service on behalf of LLCC students.

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