Kansas college weighs sale of farm

money

IOLA, Kan. (AP) — Officials of a community college in southeast Kansas are considering selling the school’s 240-acre farm, where eight scholarship recipients live in a house specially built to let them experience life on a working farm.

Allen Community College president John Masterson told the board of trustees at a recent meeting that keeping the farm makes little sense amid low interest in the school’s agriculture program. Enrollment in courses on the main campus in Iola has averaged 9.47 students over the last five years, with an average of 15.53 seats per course left unfilled, The Iola Register reported (http://bit.ly/1xJNllC ).

“For the last four years we’ve tried to increase the program,” Masterson said. “One of the things we discovered was that the farm is underutilized. The sale of the farm is not the enticement for its closure.”

The college purchased the farm five miles north of Iola and built a classroom and animal building there in the early 1980s. In 1999, alumnus Richard Zahn established a scholarship program in honor of his late father, a former agriculture instructor at the school.

Zahn also donated funds to build a farmhouse for the scholarship recipients, one of whom, Dakota Ferguson, told the trustees the Zahn program was the college’s chief attraction for him.

“I wanted to come here because of the farm and the opportunities it would provide me,” said Ferguson, who said he wants to become a professional artificial inseminator.

The farm, along with its animals and barns, is used as a practice area for the college’s livestock judging courses. Administrators said they recently asked faculty members to suggest how it could be used as a learning laboratory, but got no responses.

Steve Troxel, vice president of finance, said the farm had income of $12,473 in the latest academic year and direct expenses of $109,193.

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