Lincoln Land Community College received its largest-ever donation – an $18-million gift benefiting the school’s agriculture program.
Charlie and Irene Kreher had no children, lived a modest lifestyle, and had no family ties to Lincoln Land Community College, despite making them the beneficiary of their charitable trust.
Bill Harmon, the agriculture program coordinator, said the college will earn roughly $500,000 each year from the trust and will use a portion of that for scholarships.
“We anticipate both merit-based scholarships because we want to go after the best of the best in these local high schools that have been our supporters in the past. It’s also going to be need-based scholarships for those students who want to come to school, but are having some financial issues," Harmon said.
LLCC's goal is to double enrollment in the program by 2020. The college will use some funds to purchase up-to-date curriculum and the latest agriculture technology. One of the most noteworthy purchases so far is a simulator from John Deere.
“If we’re going to take a student and have them go into a situation where they’re going to run a quarter of a million, half million dollar machine, well that’s a lot of pressure to put on a young person to climb up in that cab and operate it for the first time," said Harmon. "This simulator’s going to allow them to practice in a safe, controlled environment. If they crash the sprayer, all we have to do is hit reset."
The Krehers lived in Blue Mound, Illinois. Friends of the couple say they wanted to be sure their legacy would be used to benefit students, farmers and the community.