Farm program gifted w/late couple’s legacy

Local News

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) — The future of the area’s agriculture is brighter than ever thanks to a local farming couple.

The AG program at Lincoln Land Community College just got $18 million. Some say it’s the largest donation of its kind.

School officials say they have a laundry list of new initiatives they plan to tackle with the huge donation. They’re revamping technology, boosting scholarships, expanding partnerships with local AG businesses and offering more classes to high school students.

Clearly, students headed to LLCC have a lot to look forward to. $18 million is the amount of money headed straight to students in LLCC’s AG program.

“This money will allow us to stop thinking about, can we afford to do something, but what’s the best thing we can do for students?”

They’ve got big plans. Thanks to the Krehers, a local farming couple, more students have the chance to excel.

“Blessed and fortunate. So much excitement for this program.”

AG student Dominik Ruppert is a fourth-generation farmer.

“It just hits all my interests and it’s something I get up early everyday to continue on doing.”

But, he says not enough kids these days feel the same way. Now that the school is investing millions into outreach, scholarships and technology, he hopes things turn around.

“That gives students a chance and opportunity to learn, ‘Hey, actually, an agriculture class and this is something that interests me and see myself doing.'”

The Krehers, described as a loving and giving couple with a passion for farming, died before this day came. They had no kids of their own, but a few years ago, Mrs. Kreher decided she’d leave their fortune to the children of others.

“To think she picked us because of what our students had accomplished. You know, it’s very humbling and it’s a challenge we’re ready to take on.”

The Krehers, who wanted to remain anonymous, also left their farmland to be used as a learning space for students.

The money is in a trust. The school is promised the entire $18 million, but will only use about $500,000 each year.

LLCC was founded about 50-years ago by farmers. School officials say admission for their program has been up in recent years.

Other things to look forward to at the school are new dual class credit programs, new staff hirings and student-led research.

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