Editor’s Note: This is a letter sent to a Roundup reporter by Dr. Leland Shapiro, Department chair of agriculture and natural resource in regard to a previous articles written by the Roundup, the LA Times and a broadcast report on KCAL 9.
Dear Faculty, Staff, Administrators and Friends:
There is some confusion as to what was said and why to the reporters from the LA Times and to Channel 9 kcal when they came to Pierce College last week regarding the Farm and our budget woes. I purposely taped myself while being interviewed to make sure that I was NOT misquoted. And I was not. I was asked if the college was closing the Farm. I responded that no one at the college has ordered the closing of the Farm. However, as Department Chair and as an animal lover, I have obligations to make sure our teaching animals are properly cared for. The USDA and the AVMA sets standards that we are obliged to follow in the care and welfare of our animals and units. We used to have 10 full times employees and 1,000 hours/week of student labor to care for our farm laboratory. The past two weeks we had 1 1/2 employees working. With the hiring freeze we have not been able to replace the three recent employees who left the farm. It is not possible to meet USDA/AVMA standards with 1 1/2 employees. As you know all student labor ends June 1st and we will not have summer school classes that permits our students to work on the Farm. I manage the budget for our department and we have a 25% decrease in overall funding with an increase by 30% in feed costs. We have greatly reduced our animal numbers to the point where it is affecting the quality of education needed by our students. I have an account in the Foundation (adopt a cow account) and have used this revenue to purchase seed ($1555) for our pasture and will attempt to purchase hay for our goats, sheep and cattle. We need at least $50,000/year for our feed and another $50,000 to cover misc. expenses (veterinary, equipment repair, maintenance of facilities, student labor, behavioral enrichment toys for the animals, bedding, weed whackers and irrigation equipment). I have been with the farm for 41 years. We have sold more than 50 acres of land and developed twice that amount during this period of time. When the MTA purchased our land on Winnetka and Victory, the District promised to set this money aside and to utilize the interest from the sale of the property to maintain the open space (farm) at Pierce College. Five years later and at least $750,000 in interest and no money has been allowed to be utilized to hire the labor we need to run the farm, to purchase our feed, fencing, paint, tractor repair, irrigation equipment and other supplies listed.
According to District records we had 2603 students enrolled in animal science courses during fiscal year 2010-2011 (798 separate student id’s). This is an increase of 10% from the year before. There is a continual interest in our animal programs (specifically the farm). In addition, the community (we are a community college) has demanded the keeping of the farm, the animals, the open space for all to enjoy.
I need your help. We have set up an account in the Foundation to help
To donate to the Farm go to http://foundation.piercecollege.edu/
On the Foundation for Pierce College site at link, please click on the Donate button; after putting in payment information, click Review Donation, and in the box asking for additional instructions, designate Adopt A Cow Account
In addition, we will shortly develop an Excel spreadsheet to signup volunteers to do labor on the farm (feeding, watering, cleaning, and irrigation). If you would like to help here (starting June 1st) we will be seeking your assistance.
I love Pierce College. I love the Farm and hope you will join me in securing its future for generations to come.