Illinois Valley Community College is partnering with Compeer Financial, a farm credit cooperative based in the upper Midwest, and other community and technical colleges to bolster vocational agriculture education programs and make them more accessible to young adults.
Compeer has committed $1.9 million in grants and scholarships over the next five years through its Agriculture and Rural Initiative to 30 post-secondary colleges.
Representatives from Compeer’s Fund for Rural America Board met with the colleges to announce the first major gift from its Agriculture and Rural Initiative. The initiative provides training for young adults pursuing agriculture-related careers.
A shortage of skilled workers is an ongoing challenge for farmers and other agriculture-related businesses. Compeer Financial is addressing the problem and putting significant financial support behind the effort.
“IVCC is excited about the opportunities the Compeer partnership will provide for students, farmers and businesses in the area,” IVCC ag program co-coordinator Willard Mott said.
“These grants will provide us with even more classroom technology as well as ease the financial burden on students,” co-coordinator Kathryn Seebruck said.
The Agriculture and Rural Initiative invests in programs and projects that directly address the needs of farmers and others who work in agriculture. Compeer Financial clients often list workforce development among their highest concerns.
Compeer is investing $1.6 million in grants and $375,000 in scholarships. Participating schools serve 144 counties in Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin, and each has an established agriculture program. Colleges may use the grants for equipment and technology, recruitment, retention and teacher training.
Partner colleges will receive two annual $1,250 ag scholarships over the next five years.
In addition to extending financial support, Compeer also will connect partner colleges with team members who are alumni or live in the area to serve as resources to the ag programs.
Compeer will be a conduit between graduates looking to put their training to work and clients who have jobs available.
“Compeer is a strong supporter of high school programs and organizations focused on agricultural education for youth,” said Roger Newell, a trustee of the Fund for Rural America.