NORFOLK — One of the Midwest’s largest farmer-owned cooperatives has announced a donation to the Nexus campaign to improve agriculture facilities at Northeast Community College.
Central Valley Ag President and CEO Carl Dickinson said the cooperative board of directors has approved a $250,000 investment in the Agriculture and Water Center of Excellence at Northeast.
“Having a college in our community that’s drawing from the right type of people with rural backgrounds, getting them trained up and getting them started and bringing them to us is vital,” Dickinson said. “Not everyone needs a four-year degree,” he continued. “We need people that are trained in trades. We’ve been extremely happy with the students we’re getting out of Northeast.”
CVA, headquartered in York, is a farmer-owned cooperative with locations in Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska.
It provides products and services in grain, agronomy, feed and energy. CVA has more than 900 employees at its 72 locations, and Dickinson said about 20 percent of them were trained at Northeast Community College.
“All of the students that come out of Northeast today come more advanced,” said Chris Carlson, Wausa, CVA director of sales and a 1997 Northeast graduate. “They’re ready to hit the field. They’ve got a jumpstart on other individuals. They’re more prepared and have a better idea of what’s happening in agriculture today.”
Ed Burbach, Randolph, the fertilizer operations lead for CVA and a 2013 Northeast graduate, said, “If you are looking to be in agriculture, Northeast is the place to go — and CVA is looking to hire.”
Dr. Tracy Kruse, associate vice president of development and external affairs at Northeast and the executive director of the College Foundation, said CVA has joined a growing list of companies and agriculture organizations investing in the future of agriculture at Northeast.
“CVA is a long-time partner on the College farm,” Kruse said. “They interact with students, bringing real world knowledge to the classroom and the farm field.”
CVA also provides paid internships for many Northeast ag students, Kruse said.
Funding for the $23 million Agriculture & Water Center for Excellence project is currently being solicited to enhance and expand the agriculture 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 farm office and storage, a large animal handling facility and other farm structures for livestock operations, and a new veterinary technology clinic and classrooms.
The new facilities will be located near the Chuck M. Pohlman Agriculture Complex on East Benjamin Avenue in Norfolk.