Ridgewater Receives $75,000 Compeer Financial Agriculture & Rural Initiative Grant
April 11, 2022
The Agriculture and Rural Initiative, Compeer Financial’s donor-advised fund, has granted $825,000 to community and technical colleges across the cooperative’s 144-county territory, including $75,000 to Ridgewater College.
“Because Compeer clients often list workforce development among their highest concerns, our board agreed that vocational agriculture education should be a high priority for the fund,” said Rodney Bosma, a Compeer Financial director. “Our partners in higher education provide opportunities for young adults in rural communities every day, and we hope this support will enhance those training programs to prepare them for a successful future in agriculture.” The organization has committed $1.9 million in grants and scholarships over the next five years to further develop agriculture’s workforce.
Ridgewater has used its funds to purchase and vinyl-wrap a 45-foot agriculture technology mobile trailer with inspiring photos to help promote Ridgewater’s 10 ag programs through hands-on technology. Additional grant priorities included investing in a new Meat Cutting certificate program and purchasing an NIR (Near Infra-Red) Silage Moisture Tester.
Ridgewater is one of four Minnesota community and technical colleges receiving this grant support. Recipients were chosen based on their ag education offerings, ag workforce development and geographic impact. These grants are expected to directly impact more than 2,700 students studying agriculture and agriculture-related fields, and help to enhance the curriculum offered by more than 125 faculty instructors.
“Compeer Financial recognized a need to assist community and technical colleges with funding innovative and leading-edge agriculture programs and initiatives,” said Jeff Miller, Ridgewater dean of instruction for technical programs. “We are grateful. The Ag Technology trailer will provide unique opportunities for K-12 students, post-secondary students, and industry professionals to learn the requisite skills needed in the precision agriculture industry. Use of the trailer will strengthen Ridgewater College’s already strong and long-standing Precision Agriculture program (formerly known as GPS/GIS Systems).”
Compeer’s Karen Johnson attended the annual Ridgewater Ag Banquet on Tues., April 5, to share the milestone of the completed trailer and the progress in development of the Meat Cutting program.
“It’s exciting to see how community and technical colleges provide a one-of-a-kind educational opportunity focused on the needs and careers in the local communities,” Johnson said.
“We are proud to recognize the vision of the Ridgewater College Ag Department faculty for the trailer and the learning opportunity they will provide students as they complete the highly technical build and installation of various hardware and software needed for the trailer,” Miller added.
Each grant partner college is also receiving two annual $1,250 scholarships for ag program or pathway students during the next five years. Recipients of the 2022 Ridgewater Compeer Financial Scholarships were named at Tuesday’s banquet: Leah Mohs (of Rice) and William Pell (from Alpha).
The Agriculture and Rural Initiative was created by the Compeer Financial Board of Directors in 2019 to make signature investments in programs and projects that directly address the needs of farmers and others who work in agriculture. The grants are part of Compeer’s commitment to supporting clients and communities, creating sustainable and long-term success in the industry, according to Bosma.
Financial is a member-owned Farm Credit cooperative serving and supporting agriculture and rural communities. The organization provides loans, leases, risk management and other financial services throughout Minnesota, Illinois, and Wisconsin. Compeer Financial provides personalized service and expertise to clients and the agriculture industry.