SPRINGFIELD – Officials of Lincoln Land Community College, the LLCC Foundation and the Kreher Farm Charitable Perpetual Trust cut the ribbon today to open the new Kreher Agriculture Center on the LLCC campus.
“Today we continue to honor the intent of our generous donors, Charles and Irene Kreher, to transform and grow our agriculture program and attract more students to this rewarding profession,” said LLCC Board Chair Ken Elmore.
A gift of $18 million from the Kreher Trust to the LLCC Foundation was announced in March of 2018. Since then the college has revamped its agriculture curriculum, adding more technology, simulators, research and scholarship opportunities. The new 19,750-square-foot, $7.5 million building is the latest step in the program’s transformation.
“We want students to see how this new building opens up possibilities for them in agriculture,” continued Elmore. “We want them to know that they belong here, and that there are so many career opportunities in agriculture that they can prepare for in the Kreher Agriculture Center.
“My late uncle Charles Long was among the founding trustees who planted a seed over 50 years ago. Their foresight allowed myself, my wife and our children to be a multi-generational LLCC family. The foundation that I received from LLCC has allowed me to have a successful career in banking and farming. It is a great honor to recognize a gift from a farm family that will impact the lives of so many people for generations to come.”
LLCC President Charlotte Warren told the group of donors, elected officials and others gathered for the ribbon cutting, “We couldn’t be more excited about opening the Kreher Agriculture Center. We see LLCC as the central hub for agriculture education and the agriculture industry, the No. 1 industry in the state. With this new facility, we will prepare even more students to be successful leaders and innovators in agriculture careers.”
“Charles and Irene Kreher’s intent was to support local students and agriculture,” said Don Wienhoff, representative of the Kreher Trust. “Throughout the facility, you will also see the belief in students and the LLCC Agriculture program from community partners including Evelyn Thomas, Farm Credit Illinois, First National Bank of Litchfield, The BRANDT Foundation, Illinois Pork Producers Association and the Illinois Soybean Association. We also celebrate the many scholarship donors joining us today who have invested in the education of students.”
The Center houses state-of-the-art classrooms, laboratories and student gathering spaces. It was designed to promote active learning including hands-on research, problem solving and group activities.
A showplace of the building is the large, glassed-in simulation lab with a combine simulator, sprayer simulator, drones, augmented reality sand table, welding simulator and drone simulator, creating a one-of-a-kind learning environment in Illinois. The lab was envisioned for students to develop skills in operating equipment before using actual vehicles and leave better prepared for success on the job.
The Center’s technology arena will accommodate CAD-based landscape design, precision agriculture and computer applications classes. Students can view a “scoreboard” from anywhere in the room, and instructors can bring student screens up for all to see and discuss.
The large Animal Science Pavilion is designed to be a multiuse, flexible space. Animal pens can be set up for an animal science class. Smaller machinery can be brought in for class activities. Horticulture classes can build and grow an indoor landscape bed no matter the weather.
Built following LEED principles, the Center utilizes natural lighting and geothermal heating/cooling. Decorative elements include reclaimed wood from a Sangamon County barn on several walls and “logs” used as informal tables, footstools or seats.
The new innovation and collaboration spaces will allow LLCC to host a variety of groups including Illinois FFA, Illinois Professional Agriculture Students, Farm Bureau, Soil and Water Conservation Districts and others for meetings, seminars, contests and conferences.
Alexis Carroll, LLCC Ag Club president, expressed the excitement of her fellow ag students. “In this building, collaboration, innovation and great moments will happen. Our students will be better prepared and equipped with the education they will be receiving in this facility.”
President Warren had a message for students, especially those who may have never considered a career in agriculture. “To any student wondering if there’s a place for them in the agriculture industry, I say, you belong here at LLCC! The career possibilities are endless.”
LLCC’s National Professional Agricultural Student (PAS) Organization, Livestock Judging Team and staff are recipients of top awards in state and national competitions. Students entering the LLCC Agriculture program this fall will learn under a redesigned curriculum that incorporates project-based learning in test plots on the LLCC campus and Kreher Research Farm; research and hands-on learning in new active learning classrooms and labs; new equipment such as a variable rate applicator, autosteer and tillage tools; expanded faculty and staff to better support students; and partnerships with universities and high schools.
The LLCC Agriculture program utilizes the latest techniques and technology to prepare students for a successful career in agriculture and/or university transfer through degrees and certificates in agriculture, agri-business management, precision agronomy/fertilizer and horticulture. More information is available at www.llcc.edu/agriculture or by contacting Bill Harmon (217-786-2573, firstname.lastname@example.org) or Holly Bauman (217-786-2276, email@example.com).