The College of Central Florida utilizes a game-changing donation for its Agribusiness and Equine Studies programs.
In both size and monetary value, Vintage Farm is the largest donation ever made to the College of Central Florida in its 60-year history. The 103-acre south Marion County farm, valued at more than $2.9 million, was donated to CF in December 2016 by a longtime Marion County supporter of education and agriculture. The donor prefers to remain anonymous.
Vintage Farm is a shared campus resource for CF’s Agribusiness and Equine Studies programs. The CF Equine Studies program offers Associate of Science degrees in business management and equine exercise physiology. Beginning in August, CF will offer a bachelor’s degree in business and organizational management with an equine specialization.
“Without a doubt, Vintage Farm is a wonderful opportunity for us to transform our Equine Studies program,” says Dr. Judy Downer, CF Equine Studies professor and program manager. “It is allowing us to provide our students with experiential learning opportunities on a whole different level. Previously, we had to take our students to farms and vet clinics for hands-on learning. That was very limiting. But now we have Vintage Farm.”
For hands-on equine experience, horses are necessary. At Vintage Farm, boarding retired horses will serve that purpose.
“We already have two retired horses and will max out at four,” says Downer. “The horses have to be very much people-oriented horses since they will be handled by our students. The horses will be used for educational purposes to teach students equine health care, handling and grooming. The horses will also serve as great ambassadors to the public for our program.”
Currently, students spend one to three hours a day at Vintage Farm. But Downer expects the farm time to increase with the new bachelor’s program in the fall.
“The donation of Vintage Farm and the start of a new bachelor’s program was really a perfect aligning of the stars,” says Downer. “I expect the latter students to have two-hour labs every other week at the farm. Being able to have that kind of hands-on experience is invaluable.”
Future plans for Vintage Farm include building classrooms, a vet clinic lab and a covered arena.
“The covered arena will be a great educational tool,” says Downer. “It will allow our students to develop and run horsemanship clinics, equine health workshops and other programs. This is a critical skill for our students to learn toward their futures in the equine industry. With the addition of Vintage Farm to our program, we are much better equipped to prepare our students for those futures.”