Growing communities important to farmers
For many farmers, the chance of receiving free money is hard to pass up. However, when that money can be donated to a local non-profit group, the reward is even sweeter. For 76 farmers in Nebraska, this dream became a reality when they won $2,500 to be donated to the non-profit of their choice.
This program, America’s Farmers Grow Communities, is sponsored by Monsanto. Farmers and ranchers with 250 acres or more can register to win $2,500, and winners are randomly drawn from the pool.
The winner can choose to donate their money to community nonprofit organizations, such as a FFA chapter, 4-H groups, schools, fire departments and other civic groups. A total of 410 people applied for the program in eligible Nebraska counties.
“America’s Farmers Grow Communities was created because the Monsanto Fund believes in rural America and wants to help farmers strengthen the organizations within their communities,” said Annie Kayser, Outreach Manager for Monsanto.
She continued, “As a company 100 percent solely based in agriculture, why wouldn’t we focus on giving back to the rural areas in which farmers live and work? It’s the right thing to do.”
This year, Monsanto awarded a total of $3.1 million to 1,245 counties in 39 states. For every person who applied, the companied also donated $1 to local United Way organizations to help battle hunger.
One of the winners was Lance Dickey from Morrill County. Dickey owns and operates the Diamond D Ranch, where they have 250 cow/calf pairs, 250-300 acres of corn and 300 acres of alfalfa. Dickey grew up in Eastern Colorado, and when he decided to move out he started his own farm.
Dickey decided to donate his money to the Bayard FFA chapter, where his son is a freshman. “I didn’t donate it there just because my son is a student. I want to do anything I can to support the agricultural community. The FFA chapters are a good organization and I do all I can to support them,” Dickey said.
He originally found out about the program from his son, Ty. He asked his dad to register, and he knew it was something he had to do.
“I was really surprised I won. I am excited for the FFA chapter here,” Dickey said. “Anything I can do to support the FFA chapter is great. This is a good way to keep the ag industry supported.”
He added, “The program puts money back into the community, and helps the young farmers and ranchers and gives them a little extra support to further their education.”
Another farmer to win the money was Dwain Jordan from Burt County. Jordan helps manage and operate an 850 acre farm where they raise corn and soybeans. He started the farm on his own in 1950, and now farms the land with his son.
Jordan decided to donate his money to the Tekamah Public Library. “Well, I thought they were a worthwhile, needy place to help out. I wanted to help them meet their goal for the new addition they are trying to build,” he said.
Jordan found out about the program through a postcard he received in the mail. He then signed up, and waited to find out if he had won.
“Any way that companies can help the local people or associations, that’s really good. It means a lot to me to win. Any small way that we can help our communities is very important,” said Jordan.
In Boyd County, Kenneth Reiser was the winner. Reiser was born and raised on a family farm, and raises 1,800 acres of corn, beans, barley, oats, alfalfa, wild hay and feeds 400-450 stocker cattle each year with four of his seven sons.
Reiser donated his winning share to the Butte Community Historical Museum. The museum is the old schoolhouse where Reiser attended school.
“The museum replicates the challenges that the old pioneers faced. Built in 1909, it was the progress of the people coming in and settling the Plains. It houses artifacts from different generations,” he said.
He continued, “Your community organizations are always short of funds. You got to have a lot of soup suppers to raise $2,500. The money will definitely help. I know we need to repair the roof, and those kinds of things are expensive. Dollar wise, it’s positive for maintaining the facility.”
Reiser is glad that programs like this exist to help rural communities. “Our rural areas are struggling, and I just think it helps show that companies like Monsanto are interested in our rural roots,” he said.
Jack Wollen is another winner, and he has waited several years to win this award. After applying for several years, he was finally able to donate money to the Yutan Volunteer Fire Department.
Wollen farms 1,700 acres of corn and soybeans in Saunders County. He chose to donate his winning money to the fire department because he saw the need they had.
“It’s just volunteers, and they need all the money and the help they can get. They have a limited about of tax dollars that can be used,” Wollen said.
He saw the program on advertisements, and believes programs like this are very important.
“Programs like this help the rural communities and non-profits with funding. Most non-profits need money. This is just the way to pay back to them everything they do to help out others,” Wollen said.
Helping out others is what Donald Cantrell from Custer County wanted to do. Cantrell has 5,200 acres of corn and soybeans, and is a third generation farmer. His son, the fourth generation to work the fields, also works with him.
Cantrell gave his winning share to the Broken Bow Food Pantry.
“They are the neediest cause in our area, and they are really short on funds. It was really clear that they needed help when we had the presentation to give them the money. Their shelves were pretty bare, and their freezer was completely out of meat,” he said.
Cantrell heard about the program through a letter he received in the mail, and immediately registered online. “All I had to do was sign up online, and it took me five minutes. I did practically nothing, and it goes to a real worthy cause. There is nothing easier than that,” he said.
He continued, “The pantry was really thankful. At the presentation, there were three different ministers there from churches who help out. They were the only ones representing the food pantry. It’s really neat that the money was able to go to the food pantry.”
Cantrell believes programs like this are essential to help build local communities. “I think it’s awesome they will put $2,500 in every county they sell products in. It’s always going to go to good causes, whether it is youth or something like this,” he said.
He added, “It’s really amazing to be able to help out that many people, and impact that many lives.”
For more information visit http://www.AmericasFarmers.com/GrowCommunities.