Freeport, Illinois — In December 2016, at the first meeting of the advisory committee for Highland Community College’s Agriculture program, Jay Kempel, FS/Stephenson Service Company General Manager, presented HCC President Tim Hood and agriculture instructor Justin Ebert with a $10,000 donation to the program.
Since the fall of 2014, the HCC Agriculture program has been in a period of renewal and expansion. The curriculum has been enhanced by creating more course offerings and revamping course syllabi to ensure that classroom and field instruction are relevant to today’s world of agriculture. Student recruitment efforts have increased, and positive word-of-mouth has contributed as well. According to Ebert, enrollment in agriculture courses has increased since 2014, resulting in the addition of adjunct faculty to teach additional agriculture course sections.
Farm owners in Highland’s district, and several local businesses directly or indirectly serving the ag community, have stepped up to offer financial support for the program. This funding has been used to cover the cost of classroom equipment and supplies, test plot activities, and co-curricular organizations such as the Ag Club, the Postsecondary Ag Students Chapter, and the Dairy Judging Team. Some donors, like Stephenson Service Company, have simply made a general donation to HCC Agriculture, which will allow program administrators to utilize the funds in ways they are most needed this academic year.
Stephenson Service Company’s Jay Kempel worked with Growmark Foundation’s “Enduring Commitments” program to secure $5,000 in matching funds for Stephenson Service Company’s $5,000 proposed gift. Growmark Foundation helps its system partners to “make a bigger impact within their communities by matching eligible donations to non-profit organizations.”
In his application for the matching funds, Kempel described Highland’s Agriculture program as “under new leadership and destined for growth.”
It turns out Kempel’s affinity for HCC is personal as well. He notes, “I am an HCC alumnus and am very proud of having the College in our area.”