Merced College receives $5-million from a local farmer

When Raj Kahlon was a young boy he had dreams of one day becoming a farmer, even though his father was a businessman.  Little did he know, his humble beginnings would lead to that dream becoming a reality.

In a relatively short amount of time, Kahlon has become a prominent local pistachio and almond farmer, building the Kahlon family business.  Kahlon is now giving back to the community with a $5-million donation to support the agricultural programs at Merced College and the future 20,000-square foot Agriculture and Industrial Technology Complex.

“I believe that Merced College is the foundation of the Merced community,” Kahlon said. “They’ve had strong ties to local agriculture since the school opened and continue to educate the area’s future agriculturists and leaders.

“It is the reason I entered this partnership. Helping to grow the workforce of Merced County is important to everyone. I want to be a part of that growth.”

The partnership agreement, approved by the Merced College Board of Trustees on Tuesday evening, between Kahlon and the Merced College Foundation will include developing approximately 100-acres of pistachios, which will generate additional funds for the College as well as provide an agricultural land lab for students to learn production and harvesting practices.

“This is the largest gift in Merced College history and the beginning of big things to come,” Merced College Superintendent/President Chris Vitelli said. “I’m proud of the work done by the Merced College Foundation to help make this happen and grateful to Raj Kahlon for his investment in our students and agricultural programs.

“Throughout this process, Raj has expressed his desire to give back to the community who has given him so much. I couldn’t be more appreciative of his incredible generosity and the long-term impact of this donation.”

Kahlon will be honored as the President’s Medallion recipient at the seventh annual State of the College luncheon, which is set to be held on May 8. Vitelli will also recommend to the Merced College Board of Trustees that the College’s new Agriculture and Industrial Technology Building is named after Kahlon.

Executive Director of the Merced College Foundation, Jill Cunningham said this gift is near and dear to the school administration’s heart. President Vitelli studied agriculture and was very active in the FFA, while Cunningham has deep roots in the Le Grand farming community.

(Merced College press release)

“I’m a third generation Merced College family and I’m thrilled that this donation will propel the next generations to come.”

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