When Roy Kubica retired from farming, he thought of his alma mater.
Earlier this month, the Class of 1966 Lakeland College alumnus donated $500,000 to buy land for the college’s student-managed farm.
“I have put it in my mind that I am giving away a farm,” said Kubica, who retired from farming with his brother Rick in the Thorhild area in 2017.
It is vital for the college to continue its work in expanding agricultural student-led learning opportunities, he said.
“I hope to help these programs where students are able to benefit from hands-on learning and leadership opportunities,” said Kubica. “Lakeland’s agricultural sciences programming is essential for future generations of farmers and other agricultural professionals. I have the opportunity to help a lot of students and I am proud to do so.”
With his gift and those of other donors, Lakeland was able to purchase two adjoining quarters with 309 acres of quality cropland located six kilometres west of the Vermilion campus and within close proximity to other college land.
“By increasing our land base, we won’t have to put the brakes on our students’ innovation,” said college president and CEO Alice Wainwright-Stewart. “They will have the acres they need to continue to try new things and test different ideas, which we know is an essential element of our award-winning programming.”
Though it has been more than five decades since Kubica studied agriculture at Lakeland’s Vermilion campus, he remembers his college experience fondly.
“All of the things that we did in class, I was able to use afterwards,” he said. “I learned about livestock, plant science, economics — you had a full day. I remember the welding shop well, too. It all really helped a lot.”
Kubica is a long-standing supporter of the college, donating to its annual fundraising campaign and establishing a scholarship in 2015.
Since Lakeland last grew its land base in 2010, student numbers and crop and livestock applied research have grown substantially. Crop technology and animal science technology enrolment increased from 90 students in 2011 to 266 students in the fall of 2018. With the increase in enrolment, the addition of a livestock applied research herd, and the doubling of Lakeland’s dairy herd because of the new Dairy Learning Centre’s capacity, more of Lakeland’s land base was being used for pasture and feed production. This additional land was needed to support the crop technology program and the crop unit.