Barry McNamara  |  Published January 05, 2022

The Gift of Land

When farmland is given to Monmouth, it’s a ‘win-win’ for the College.

HARVEST TIME: Through donor gifts to the College, Monmouth has four farms in the surrounding area... HARVEST TIME: Through donor gifts to the College, Monmouth has four farms in the surrounding area, including the Vance Farm in Henderson County, where this harvest photo was taken on Oct. 20.MONMOUTH, Ill. – In late October, staff members from Monmouth College and Monmouth’s Midwest Bank watched as some of the last corn was harvested at the Vance Farm, one of four local farms that have been left as estate gifts to the College.

As a combine driven by Jared Clark – the fourth generation of Clarks to farm that acreage near the rural community of Rozetta, about 10 miles west of campus – rolled by on a mild, sunny morning, his father, Brian Clark, talked about the weather during the growing season and about yields, which this year favored soybeans over corn.

Other Clarks busy in the nearby field were Brian’s uncle Dean Clark ’63, Brian’s brother Brad Clark and their father, 87-year-old Jerry Clark.

During the gathering – which included doughnuts from the nearby Belted Cow Orchard – one of the bank employees made an important observation.

“A lot of people don’t realize that they can leave farmland to the institution,” said Liz Hulsizer, the lead trust officer at Midwest Bank.

In addition to the Vance Farm, the College owns three farms even closer to Monmouth – the Capron Farm, the Everett Farm and the Lanphere-Defenbaugh Farm.

“It’s a win-win. The College gets the gift of land, and it also receives some of the income that comes from farming it.” Gena Corbin Alcorn

“It’s a win-win,” said Gena Corbin Alcorn ’88, Monmouth’s director of development and legacy giving. “The College gets the gift of land, and it also receives some of the income that comes from farming it.”

Monmouth Controller Holly Tharp explained how that process works.

“It’s a flex lease, which means we get a set rent price per acre plus an amount based on prices and yields for the year,” she said. “The exact details of the lease arrangement are handled by our farm managers at Midwest Bank. We do not actually receive any of the crop yield or have to manage the selling of product.”

In addition to Hulsizer and the staff member who accompanied her to the Vance Farm, Brooke Anderson, a Monmouth College alum is also involved in managing the land – Adam Carlson ’04, who is Midwest Bank’s vice president of wealth management.

Alcorn said it is not uncommon for donors to give farmland, but she is proud of what she called the “unique” way Monmouth College handles the gift.

“Many other charitable organizations will accept gifts of farmland, but they’ll sell it,” she said. “We don’t sell the land. It becomes part of our investment portfolio, which helps us diversify, especially when markets are volatile. For people to give something of such meaning to them, it means a lot to them that we keep the family farm intact.”

Alcorn speaks from experience when she discusses the emotions and attachment that go into farming a piece of land.

“When I tell donors that I understand how impactful a gift of farm ground is for the College, I’m sincere,” she said. “I grew up on a small family farm, and I know how hard farm families work to keep their ground producing crops each year. Those farms feed families, and they are oftentimes a legacy for generations of families. So when a donor decides to give a farm to the College, it’s with an overwhelming feeling of pride and gratitude that we accept such a gift. I’m always open to talking to alumni and friends of the College about gifts of farmland.”

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