New building approved; Ag hopes to double program

Olivia Hoots, Lamp staff

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The Ag program plans to break ground on a new $7.5 million building this summer. It hopes to see twice as many agriculture students attending LLCC with the changes under way. 

On Wednesday, Feb. 27, the board of trustees approved the sale of $7.5 million worth of bonds to pay for the construction and furnishings of the Kreher Ag Center” said Bill Harmon, Lincoln Land agricultural professor and adviser.

The Keher Ag Center will be funded by the $18 million Kreher Trust that the Ag program received in 2018.

The building and Kreher Trust will “provide amazing new opportunities for our students,” said Lynn Whalen, executive director of public relations and marketing.

“We are thrilled with what this gift means for LLCC and its students for generations to come,” said Karen Sanders, executive director of LLCC Foundation, which administers the Kreher Trust.

Since receiving the Kreher Trust, the Ag program has hired Ag program recruiter Holly Bauman, bought a car, a shuttle bus and a John Deere combine simulator.

“We’ve used some of that money for scholarships for the judging team and Ag students,” Harmon said. Other technology purchases include drones and software for the fertilizer program.

The Kreher Ag Center, however, is the biggest advancement for the Ag program yet.

“The building will house all Ag and horticulture classes,” Harmon said.

The plan is to start construction on the building this summer and for the entire program to move into it by the spring of 2021.

It will “have classrooms and labs, some improved student spaces, whether it is for studying, working on projects, or relaxing, a place that students want to be even when not in class.” Harmon continued.

There will be meeting spaces for both small and large groups.

Nathan Goebel, the vice president of the LLCC Ag Club, said “I believe the new Ag building will allow (the) LLCC Ag program to expand and provide more opportunities for LLCC Ag students to work with newer technology and accommodate for large class sizes.”

Overall, “we are really early in the design process,” said Harmon.

Harmon stressed the need for a flexible space. For example, there would be a cart with laptops instead a computer lab. Also, there will be large rooms that can be made smaller when divided to allow for more functionality. The design is to allow students to take classes in a high-tech environment. This specific design “should have some wow factor,” said Harmon.

Harmon continued by saying that “it will serve as a recruiting tool.” This fall, the program will begin offering afternoon Ag classes to high school students who attend schools without Ag programs.

“As far as why, part of what we have been asked to do with the gift is to grow the Ag program. We’d like to double it.” said Harmon. Everything being done because of the Kreher Trust is for that main goal.

“I believe that the new Ag building is going to broaden the Ag department tremendously. It will allow us to have the resources and space to host events and get our name out there. With that being said, hopefully it will bring in multiple new students which we will be able to accommodate with bigger classrooms and advanced technology for learning opportunities. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to experience the new building, but I am excited for the future Ag students who will.” said Lori Jackson, current LLCC Ag Club president.

The Kreher Ag Center will be located just south of Cass Gymnasium in the southwest corner of the parking lot.

Olivia Hoots can be reached at [email protected]