Lakeland College alumnus supports college farm expansion

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March 5, 2019
When Roy Kubica retired from farming, he thought of Lakeland College, his alma mater.
In fact, the Class of 1966 alumnus wanted to give back to Lakeland’s current and future students by helping to expand the Student-Managed Farm – Powered by New Holland (SMF).
 
“I have put it in my mind that I am giving away a farm,” says Kubica, who retired from farming with his brother Rick in the Thorhild, Alta., area in 2017.
 
On March 5, Kubica returned to the Vermilion campus to donate $500,000 to Lakeland College. The funds are being used to increase Lakeland’s land base, which Kubica says is vital for the college to continue its work in expanding agricultural student-led learning opportunities. 
 
“I hope to help these programs where students are able to benefit from hands-on learning and leadership opportunities,” he says. “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.”
 
The generous support of Kubica and other donors made it possible for Lakeland to purchase two adjoining quarters with 309 acres of quality cropland.
 
“On behalf of Lakeland College, we thank Mr. Kubica for his visionary support – his generosity is the product of many years of hard work. We are honoured to have our students continue his legacy at Lakeland,” says Dr. Alice Wainwright-Stewart, president and CEO of Lakeland College. “By increasing our land base, we won’t have to put the brakes on our students’ innovation. 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 says. “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.”
 
Over the years, Kubica’s connection with Lakeland has only grown stronger. He stays in touch with fellow alumni by attending Homecoming celebrations in June, as well as alumni socials in Edmonton and Westlock. Kubica is also a longstanding supporter of Lakeland students. He has donated to the Annual Giving Campaign and, since 2013, Kubica has contributed to the college’s student awards program. He established the Roy J. Kubica Agriculture Scholarship in 2015; eight students have received this student award to date.   
 
“I see everything at the college growing and doing well, and I am happy to do my part to help it continue,” says Kubica.
 
In February, Lakeland finalized the land purchase which was made possible because of donors supporting Leading. Learning. The Lakeland Campaign. “This purchase was driven by generous donors who recognize the value of our student-managed learning model. They wanted to ensure that our students have access to the land base they need to benefit from the leadership and learning opportunities we provide through our Student-Managed Farm,” says Wainwright-Stewart.
 
Located six kilometres west of the Vermilion campus and within close proximity to other college land, the new land supports Lakeland’s strategic priorities of commercial agriculture production and ag-based applied research. The purchase also includes a house and outbuildings.
 
A dedication ceremony will be held in the future to commemorate Kubica and fellow donors who made this land purchase a possibility for Lakeland.
 
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 appropriately support the crop technology program and the crop unit – Lakeland’s largest SMF unit. 
 
Lakeland’s guiding philosophy is that students benefit from first-hand opportunities to learn by doing and leading; there is no substitute for experience.
 
Photos: Top, Roy Kubica (front row, left) presents Dr. Alice Wainwright-Stewart, president and CEO of Lakeland College (front row, right), with a donation to help grow Lakeland's Vermilion campus land base. Joining them for the presentation are Josie Van Lent, dean of Lakeland’s School of Agricultural Sciences (back row, far left), Scott Webb, chair of Lakeland's board of  governors (back row, far right), and representatives from Lakeland's SMF and the Vermilion Campus Students' Association. Bottom, Kubica's yearbook photo from 1966, the year he graduated from Lakeland.