2019 President’s Medallion Award Recipient
“... Helping to grow the workforce of Merced County is important to everyone. I want to be a part of that growth.”
Raj Kahlon has quietly become a pillar in the Merced community.
The owner of RHM Farms has steadily grown his family business and reputation over the last 20 years. During that time, Kahlon has earned praise from his peers for his business savvy and integrity.
Generosity can be added to his list of attributes.
Wishing to give back to the community in which he’s thrived as a pistachio and almond farmer, Kahlon donated $5-million 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 in late March, 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’s generosity helped make him the seventh recipient of the President’s Medallion at the 2019 State of the College Address and Luncheon. The Merced College Board of Trustees took it one step further, unanimously agreeing to name the College’s new Agriculture and Industrial Technology Building after Kahlon at their April board meeting.
The proposed building will consist of 20,000 square feet of classroom and laboratory space for programs in agribusiness, industrial technology, horticulture, HVAC, crop science and animal science. The added classrooms and labs will increase enrollment capacity by 2,248 weekly student contact hours, helping to keep pace with the 12-percent enrollment bump that the Chancellor’s Office predicts from 2016-2022.
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.
“I’m a third generation Merced College family and I’m thrilled that this donation will propel the next generations to come,” Cunningham said.