Lakeland donors: $13.4m

A herd of bison worth nearly $1 million was among the 3,000 gifts the college received. | File photo

A five-year fundraising campaign that included the donation of a bison herd has netted $13.4 million for Lakeland College in Alberta.

“This is one of those things that our donors, when they got behind it, we had a compelling place for them to put their money,” said Georgina Altman, vice-president of external relations and infrastructure.

“And they got excited about what we’re trying to do, so they came together with cash and land and buildings and equipment and all kinds of things that really made a difference to that.”

The campaign, which was launched in 2016, was guided by campaign leadership team chair and Lakeland alumnus Mike Kotelko. It exceeded its original goal by more than $2 million.

“We had over 1,100 donors who gave us a total of over 3,000 gifts, so it was really pretty phenomenal,” said Altman. Contributors ranged from students and alumni to community members across nine Canadian provinces and three American states.

The largest donation was by Armin and Rita Mueller of the Bentley area west of Lacombe, Alta. They contributed a bison herd worth about $1 million, along with an additional $3 million to buy land for the college, said Altman.

“They’ve been producers in the bison industry for a long time and they really wanted to have that legacy move forward.”

What is now Lakeland College started as a demonstration farm in 1911. The college currently has nearly 600 agriculture students, more than twice the total 10 years ago, she said.

Priorities for the $13.4 million raised by the campaign include expanding support for students at the college’s Vermilion and Lloydminster campuses through everything from new awards to promoting student health, said Altman.

The funding has also helped empower “our next leaders in agriculture, so those gifts really were about expanding our land base, building and modernizing different facilities… and it’s really been quite a change for our Lakeland community.”

Facilities at the Vermilion campus include the Student-Managed Farm, Dairy Learning Centre, Animal Health Clinic, Agriculture Technology Centre, and the G. N. Sweet Livestock Research Facility.

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