Texas Neighbors Winter 2016 : Page 14

TEXAS NEIGHBORS | WINTER 2016 By Jessica Domel News Editor Paying for college isn’t easy. But for students in the Gruver community, funding their future is much easier thanks to the gen-erosity of local farmers. It all started several years ago when a local farmer, Karl Nielsen, with no children left more than 400 acres of his land in care of the local school district. The land was leased out and farmed with 1-2-1%0&)2)æ8838,)7',33092 -til, one day, a group of community farmers decided they could do more. The group, Ag Partners, decid-ed they could plant, care for and harvest crops to provide college scholarships for graduating Gru-ver ISD seniors. 3;A *396 '6347 0%8)6A 8,) æ678 group of Gruver High School (GHS) students is reaping the &)2)æ87 3* 8,)-6 '31192-8=T7 0% -bor of love. “It’s really amazing that our community can come together and provide us with an opportu-nity to go to college,” GHS senior Kailey Whitehead said. Whitehead, like her friends, is bound for college this fall. Her share of the farm founda-tion’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 (in this crop), we thought the same thing should go for the kids,” GISD Superinten-dent Troy Seagler said. “There’s a merit system set up based off grades, attendance and other in-volvement.” The Gruver Farm Foundation’s scholarships to the graduating class serve as an incentive for students to get involved, be studi-ous and invest in their community as the farmers have invested in them. Each year, more than 400 acres of corn is planted on the donated land. With donations from busi-nesses, farmers and community members, they’re able to plant and care for the crop for about WWW.TEXASFARMBUREAU.ORG

Community Crop Sends Kids to College

Jessica Domel

Paying for college isn’t easy. But for students in the Gruver community, funding their future is much easier thanks to the generosity of local farmers.

It all started several years ago when a local farmer, Karl Nielsen, with no children left more than 400 acres of his land in care of the local school district. The land was leased out and farmed with minimal benefit to the school until, one day, a group of community farmers decided they could do more.

The group, Ag Partners, decided they could plant, care for and harvest crops to provide college scholarships for graduating Gruver ISD seniors.

Now, four crops later, the first group of Gruver High School (GHS) students is reaping the benefits of their community’s labor of love.

“It’s really amazing that our community can come together and provide us with an opportunity to go to college,” GHS 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 (in this crop), we thought the same thing should go for the kids,” GISD Superintendent Troy Seagler said. “There’s a merit system set up based off grades, attendance and other involvement.”

The Gruver Farm Foundation’s scholarships to the graduating class serve as an incentive for students to get involved, be studious and invest in their community as the farmers have invested in them.

Each year, more than 400 acres of corn is planted on the donated land. With donations from businesses, farmers and community members, they’re able to plant and care for the crop 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,” Chad Logsdon, Gruver Farm Foundation president, said. “It’s neat for us, but 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 for the graduating class, but they do make paying for higher education much easier for Gruver families.

But the farm is about more than just providing for higher education. It’s also about a sense of community pride. So each year, Gruver ISD students visit the farm.

“There’s a huge world outside the classroom,” Logsdon said. “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 and look at a combine on loan from a local equipment dealer while an area farmer explains what it does and how it works.

They then walk a short distance to the corn field where they can pick an ear of corn and see the field that will one day help them pay for college. “It’s their future,” Derik Grotegut, vice president of the Gruver Farm Foundation, said. “It’s something for them to look forward to.”

To continue to provide scholarships for their community, the farm scholarship foundation has set some money back from previous crops so they can provide scholarships even in lower yielding years.

“It’s neat to know that you’re going to give a kid a chance that maybe they wouldn’t have,” Grotegut said. “It will maybe free up some money for them to do something great.

Read the full article at http://texasneighbors.texasfarmbureau.org/article/Community+Crop+Sends+Kids+to+College/2390114/289792/article.html.

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