Texas Agriculture October 16, 2015 : Page 22

By Jessica Domel Field Editor They planted the seeds. Nourished them. Prepared for a fruitful harvest. For the farmers of Gruver, this year’s crop is more than corn. It’s the future. A field that fulfills dreams. It started decades ago with a local farmer. Karl Nielsen had no heirs. So he donated over 400 acres of his land to the Gru-ver ISD. The land was farmed for years as a cash lease with minimal benefit to the school. A group of local farmers decided they could do more. Called the Ag Partners, they would plant and harvest the land to help graduating seniors pay for college. The Gruver ISD Farm Foundation was born. Now, four crops later, the first group of Gruver High School students bask in the glow of a successful harvest. Their future is bright because of caring farmers. And yellow kernels of corn that promise success. “It’s really amazing that our community can come together and provide us with an opportunity to go to college,” Gruver High School senior Kailey Whitehead said. Whitehead, like her friends, is bound for college this fall. Her share of the farm foundation’s harvest will be deter-mined by her involvement in both school and her community. “Since this is about a sense of community and the commu-nity’s involvement, we thought the same thing should go for the kids,” GISD Superintendent Troy Seagler said. “The more they’re involved in activities, the more money they receive.” The merit system is based on grades, attendance and other involvement. The scholarships are a great incentive for high school students to invest time in their studies. And their com-munity. As the farmers have invested in them. “All of this is donated,” Seagler said. “The farmers are not asking for anything in return. To find people that are selfless and care about other people more so than lining their own pockets is unbelievable.” Each year, 410 acres of corn is planted on the land. With donations from businesses, local agriculture and community members, the farmers plant and care for the corn for about 22 O CTOBER 16, 2015

Cultivating Success, One Student at a Time

Jessica Domel

Local farmers, community donate harvest to high school seniors

They planted the seeds. Nourished them. Prepared for a fruitful harvest. For the farmers of Gruver, this year’s crop is more than corn. It’s the future. A field that fulfills dreams.

It started decades ago with a local farmer. Karl Nielsen had no heirs. So he donated over 400 acres of his land to the Gruver ISD. The land was farmed for years as a cash lease with minimal benefit to the school. A group of local farmers decided they could do more. Called the Ag Partners, they would plant and harvest the land to help graduating seniors pay for college.

The Gruver ISD Farm Foundation was born. Now, four crops later, the first group of Gruver High School students bask in the glow of a successful harvest. Their future is bright because of caring farmers. And yellow kernels of corn that promise success.

“It’s really amazing that our community can come together and provide us with an opportunity to go to college,” Gruver High School senior Kailey Whitehead said.

Whitehead, like her friends, is bound for college this fall.

Her share of the farm foundation’s harvest will be determined by her involvement in both school and her community.

“Since this is about a sense of community and the community’s involvement, we thought the same thing should go for the kids,” GISD Superintendent Troy Seagler said. “The more they’re involved in activities, the more money they receive.”

The merit system is based on grades, attendance and other involvement. The scholarships are a great incentive for high school students to invest time in their studies. And their community. As the farmers have invested in them.

“All of this is donated,” Seagler said. “The farmers are not asking for anything in return. To find people that are selfless and care about other people more so than lining their own pockets is unbelievable.”

Each year, 410 acres of corn is planted on the land. With donations from businesses, local agriculture and community members, the farmers plant and care for the corn for about $600 per acre less than they’d usually pay.

Ag Partners, the lead farmers, care for the day-to-day operations of the land. But when it comes time to spray or harvest, other farmers step in to lighten their load.

“It’s a huge community effort,” said Gruver Farm Foundation President Chad Logsdon. “It’s neat for us. I think the kids and their parents are just elated because they don’t have anything to worry about, really. Their kids are set.”

Farm Foundation scholarships don’t cover all college expenses. But they do make paying for higher education a lot easier for Gruver families.

The farm is about more than just providing college funds. It’s also about a sense of community pride. It’s about agriculture. And the profound role it plays in the local community. That’s why elementary students visit the farm at harvest time each year.

“There’s a huge world outside the classroom,” Logsdon said. “I think that’s what they realize when they visit. They come out, and they’re in awe that corn is that tall and it yields what it does. They love it.”

Each student is able to climb on a combine on loan from Green Country Equipment while a local farmer explains what it does and how it works.

They then visit the corn field where they can pick an ear of corn. The crop that one day will pave their roads to higher learning.

“It’s their future,” Derik Grotegut, vice president of the farm foundation, said.

Read the full article at http://texasagriculture.texasfarmbureau.org/article/Cultivating+Success%2C+One+Student+at+a+Time/2295730/276607/article.html.

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