Spoon River College will host a ribbon cutting and open house in the Vocational and Technical Education Center (VOTECH) on the Canton Campus on May 7, from 2-4 p.m. The event will recognize contributions from SRC alumnus Lynn McPheeters, Compeer Financial, and the Economic Development Administration. The public is invited to this event.

Being celebrated are the unveiling of the display honoring The McPheeters Family Hands-On-Learning Lab, a new greenhouse for the Agriculture department, and the renovations and equipment upgrades of the VOTECH building.

Lynn McPheeters was a first-generation college student who was the first student to enroll and to graduate from Spoon River College, then known as Canton Community College. After graduating in 1962, McPheeters completed baccalaureate studies at Southern Illinois University Carbondale and then began a career with Caterpillar, Inc. that spanned more than 40 years. He retired as the Vice President and CFO in 2005. His gift of $500,000 will help in supporting students entering career and technical education programs, which are ineligible for federal financial aid.

“Without SRC and SIU, I would have never been in a position to have the success I’ve had or to be able to make a gift like this,” said McPheeters.  “Businesses need a skilled workforce more than ever, and there are great opportunities available to graduates of CTE programs.  SRC is a great value for students seeking education, but many students still face financial barriers that keep them from attending.  It is my hope that The McPheeters Family Scholarship endowment will allow those who need extra assistance to attend SRC and succeed in the workforce in their chosen field.”

Funds from the Francis G. and Dorothea B. McPheeters scholarship, established by McPheeters in honor of his parents in 2002, will be rolled into the new scholarship, and a limited number of scholarships are expected to be offered in the 2024-2025 academic year.

The new greenhouse was possible with a $25,000 educational grant for career and technical education from the Agriculture and Rural Initiative, Compeer Financial’s donor advised fund, which has granted $175,000 to community and technical colleges across the cooperative’s 144-county territory.

“Our clients continue to list workforce development among their highest concerns, and these grants and scholarships are the first step to improving this challenge for the industry,” said Stephanie Wise, a Compeer Financial Director. “The future of agriculture and our client’s farms rely on a strong, vibrant and robust agricultural workforce, and our partners in higher education provide opportunities for young adults to explore and gain hands-on experience in these careers.”

“Thanks to this generous donation, the greenhouse will provide students with more hands-on learning in horticulture and crop science by incorporating plant ID, research, and plant sales into the curriculum,” said Allyson Smith, SRC Agriculture instructor.

A $1.5M grant in CARES Act Recovery Assistance to boost workforce development program was put towards new training and renovations of the Vocational and Technical Education Center. Upgrades funded by the grant include new welding booths, new ventilation and exhaust systems plus an overhead crane in the shop area, geothermal in the offices and classrooms, radiant heat, new overhead doors, LED lights, a new air compressor, and large

fans. A mezzanine was constructed in the Diesel and Power Systems Technology area to allow for clean, organized parts storage. In addition, the fleet of tractors and trailers in the Commercial Driver Training program will be upgraded with more modern equipment.”

“This was a crucial investment that will allow us to continue to enhance our workforce programs, and provide high demand, high wage career pathways for students well into the future,” said Brad O’Brien, dean of career and workforce education at SRC.

Attendees at the event will be able to see the unveiling of the display honoring The McPheeters Family Hands-On-Learning Lab, tour VOTECH to see and learn about the renovations and equipment upgrades, meet instructors and students from Career and Technical (CTE) programs, and enjoy cookies and refreshments.

The recognition event will begin at 2:45, with the ribbon cutting following the recognition speeches. To RSVP, please call 309-649-6260 or email foundation@src.edu. The Canton Campus is located at 23235 N. County Highway 11.