Funds sought

Dr. Tracy Kruse, associate vice president of development and external affairs and executive director of the Northeast Foundation.

NORFOLK —All residents of Northeast Nebraska are invited to invest in the future of the area through the Nexus project at Northeast Community College, no matter what size their contributions may be.

“For the past few months, we have been highlighting significant donations to the capital campaign to build new agriculture facilities at Northeast Community College,” said Dr. Tracy Kruse, associate vice president of development and external affairs and executive director of the Northeast Foundation. “Those large gifts are vital to the Nexus project, but we want everyone who believes in the future of agriculture and of small communities to be included in this effort.”

With agriculture as the largest industry in Nebraska, Kruse said more than 60 percent of the gross regional product and half of all jobs in the northeast part of the state are related to agriculture.

“Communities of all sizes, from Norfolk to Monowi, will only be successful if agriculture is thriving,” she said.

Kruse has been leading an effort to design a “farm of the future” for Northeast ag students, and to raise private funds for that project.

The initial phase of construction on the Northeast Community College Agriculture & Water Center of Excellence includes a new veterinary technology building and clinic, and a new farm site with a large animal handling facility and other farm structures for livestock operations, a farm office and storage.

The new facilities will be located near the Chuck M. Pohlman Agriculture Complex on East Benjamin Avenue in Norfolk.

“It is important that every person in Northeast’s 20-county service area feels invested in this project, “Kruse said. “The students who graduate from the Northeast Community College ag department are the future farmers and ranchers of this area, and the future employees who will help agri-businesses grow. They are the next generation of residents of our small communities, the new families whose children will attend our smaller K-12 schools, join our churches, and make a difference in this region.”

Kruse said there is no doubt that more trained agricultural workers are needed in the region. To help address the demand, Northeast Community College has committed $10 million to enlarge and enhance ag facilities that will provide a state-of-the-art learning environment and help draw more students to Northeast, while another $13 million in private donations is needed to ensure a spring groundbreaking.

The Acklie Charitable Foundation is among the organizations that believes in the project that it has committed $5 million to the campaign.

Kruse said other foundations, businesses and individuals have made significant contributions ranging from $25,000 to $1 million, “and now it is up to individuals and small businesses to show their support.”

Those who would like more information on the Nexus Campaign are urged to contact Kruse, at tracyk@northeast.edu, or call 402-844-7056. Online donations may be made through the website agwaternexus.com. Checks may be mailed to: Nexus Campaign, Northeast Community College Foundation, P.O. Box 469, Norfolk, NE 68702-0469.