A multi-million dollar gift from the estate of a Norfolk area farmer will benefit agricultural education at Northeast Community College far into the future.
Norman Ochsner, who died in May 2018, left approximately $2.4 million to Northeast, said Tracy Kruse, associate vice president of development and external affairs and executive director of the Northeast Foundation in a news release. Several other charities also received gifts from the Ochsner estate.
“Mr. Ochsner wanted to make sure his legacy would support students for many years,” Kruse said. “His will specifies that Northeast hold the gift in two endowments. One endowment will provide scholarships for agriculture students. The other is to be used for construction and maintenance of the college’s new ag facilities being planned as part of the Nexus project.”
Kruse explained that the principal held in an endowment cannot be spent — only the earnings are available for the stated purpose.
“From a $1.3 million endowment, we would conservatively expect to receive 4%, or $52,000, in earnings each year,” Kruse said. “That means $52,000 a year in new scholarships for ag students and $52,000 a year for the college’s ag facilities into perpetuity.”
Those scholarships will help attract additional ag students to Northeast, which already grants the most two-year degrees in agriculture in Nebraska and the eighth most in the nation, according to the release.
Ochsner was born in Elgin, Illinois, in 1942, and moved to Nebraska with his parents in 1954. He graduated from Norfolk Senior High School in 1960 and from the University of Nebraska in 1964.
Ochsner worked in California for a while before moving back to Norfolk, where he was employed as a draftsman at Nucor. But eventually, he was needed to help his parents on their family farm and he farmed for the remainder of his life.
Over the years, Ochsner was active in several community organizations, including the Norfolk Community Theatre, the Norfolk Arts Center and the Norfalcon Radio control airplane club. He was a member of First United Methodist Church for more than 60 years.
“Coupled with the new facilities now under construction as part of the Nexus project, Northeast will become the ag education destination of choice for hundreds of future farmers, ranchers and agribusiness employees,” Kruse said.
Site work on the new facilities, near the college’s Chuck M. Pohlman Agriculture Complex, began in April and construction is expected to be completed by fall 2021.
The funding for the agricultural facilities will come from the college’s commitment of $10 million, as well as external fundraising to fill the gap.
With a total project cost of $22.3 million, the college has raised enough funds to begin construction, but Northeast will continue to fundraise because more is needed for equipment, technology and furnishings.