NORFOLK — Developing rural communities is one of the strongest arguments in support of building new agricultural facilities at Northeast Community College. That’s according to Russ Vering, one of the co-chairs of the Nexus capital campaign for the project.
Vering is co-owner of Central Plains Milling in Howells and Columbus and vice president of nutrition for the newly merged Frontier/Midwest Cooperative. He is a past president of the Nebraska Pork Producers Association and a current member of the National Pork Producers Association board of directors. Vering and Jeanne Reigle of Madison are spearheading the Nexus campaign to raise the funds to relocate the Northeast college farm and build a new veterinary technology clinic and classroom building near the Chuck M. Pohlman Ag Complex.
Vering said an investment in the Nexus program at Northeast serves local communities.
“The importance of investing in this program really helps build our communities, helps educate our children, brings them back to our communities and helps build our populations in Northeast Nebraska,” he said. “It’s going to bring more ideas to the farm; it’s going to bring more ideas back to our businesses.”
Vering has hosted Northeast student interns at Central Plains Milling and also has several Northeast graduates as employees.
“I was so surprised when Northeast staff approached me and asked how they could help my business,” he said. “They seem to understand the need for more, better trained workers in agriculture and are trying to meet that need.”
Dr. Tracy Kruse, associate vice president for development and external affairs at Northeast and executive director of the Northeast Community College Foundation, said it would not be possible to find better co-chairs than Vering and Reigle.
“They represent different facets of agriculture and agri-business, and understand that the demand for trained employees is a drag on the rural economy,” she said. “With their help in this fundraising effort, Northeast will be better able to meet the need for workers with highly technical skills and a passion for agriculture.”
Vering said the support of businesses across the state for the Nexus program demonstrates the need to develop agriculture in Nebraska.
“They realize that there is a need for educated students,” he said. “There’s a need for ag education; there’s a need for row crop education; there’s a need for highly qualified employees in Northeast Nebraska.”
Funding for the $23 million Agriculture & Water Center for Excellence project is being solicited to enhance and expand the agricultural facilities at Northeast Community College. In addition to the college’s commitment of $10 million, Northeast is seeking at least $13 million in private funds to begin the initial phase of construction, which includes a new farm site with a large animal handling facility and other farm structures for livestock operations, a new veterinary technology clinic and classrooms, and a farm office and storage. The new facilities will be located near the Chuck M. Pohlman Agriculture Complex on East Benjamin Avenue in Norfolk.
In August, the Acklie Charitable Foundation announced a $5 million lead gift to the Nexus project. The foundation was started by the late Duane Acklie and Phyllis Acklie, both Madison County natives and graduates of Norfolk Junior College, a predecessor institution of Northeast Community College.
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Want to learn more?
For more information on the Nexus Campaign, contact Kruse at firstname.lastname@example.org, 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.