It’s no secret that farm shows stimulate the economy in the communities in which they’re held and surrounding areas during the events. The total impact, however, is felt well beyond the short time the shows are held.
Grassroots giving back
Janet Stiner from the GT Church said, “Volunteering for Nelson’s BBQ over the years at the Farm Progress Show (FPS) in Decatur has been a wonderful experience for GT Church. We have met and worked with some amazing Nelson’s employees. And serving the community is something that we strive for and love to do at GT Church. We feel very blessed to have this opportunity to serve our community.”
In the past, GT Church has given the funds earned at the show to missions to help serve the needs of those ministries. This year they decided to use the funds locally and help out in their own community by serving food to local residents with needs. They reinvested the funds into their own GT Food Pantry.
Organizing a food court at FPS has also been a way for the Macon County 4-H and Extension Foundation to reinvest funds back into the community. Two new college scholarships were awarded from the Macon County HCE organization. Macon County 4-H Shooting Sports was able to purchase new bows and arrows for the archery club. 4-H Clubs received enough funding to support the program fee for 243 4-H'ers in the coming year, and Master Gardeners are planning to expand and grow three major events: the Gardening Insights education day, the Plant Sale and the Garden Walk reaching over 1,000 people each year.
Over the last decade, the Decatur 1st Nazarene has gone from being a trash crew at FPS to working at a food court. With those funds, members have built two chapels, a building for feeding programs and a parsonage in various locations in Nicaragua. They have finished a church building in Tlaxcala, Mexico, and helped in the inner city ministries in Indianapolis, Columbus, Orlando and their own community. “There is such a great feeling to be able to come together in a big tent at FPS and work together for common goals like these,” said Deb Hancock, Nazarene Missions International.
Monsanto, in conjunction with Penton Farm Progress and the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, sponsored the fifth annual America’s Farmers Food Drive at the 2013 FPS and Husker Harvest Days (HHD). The FPS food drive collected more than 22,000 pounds of food for pantries in the Decatur area, including Catholic Charities, Northeast Community Fund and the Salvation Army. In addition, 145 Illinois Future Farmers of America (FFA) chapters and 4-H clubs participated in the America’s Farmers Food Drive. The HHD food drive collected 13,434 pounds of food for food pantries in the Grand Island area and 86 Nebraska FFA chapters and 4-H clubs participated.
Each year, Titan Tire Corporation donates hundreds of farm tires for auctions that benefit local FFA chapters. This year, Titan added Husker Harvest Days to the list of events at which the company sponsors an auction. Titan donated a total of 74 tires, which raised $38,760 for the local FFA chapter.
Husker Harvest Days Local Projects
The Grand Island Senior High Athletic Booster Club is grateful for the opportunity to host a food stand at HHD each September, where the profits are used to support high school sports teams. From sports-specific equipment, strength-training equipment, training room items and funds for transportation, the boosters are able to help their coaches, athletes and programs. “It's a fun and worthwhile experience for both the boosters and the athletes who work the event. All around, it's a tremendous experience being involved with Husker Harvest Days!” said Joe Kutlas, Islander activities director.
The Wood River (Neb.) Rural School District (WRRSD) is grateful for the opportunities provided through the work of the local booster club during HHD. The communities of Wood River and Alda combine efforts in manning the Eagles’ Nest food booth over four days of intense, highly organized, food service to attendees.
Through its efforts, the club is able to financially support several student activities that otherwise would have to be funded through local tax dollars. A few items funded with the profits from HHD include replacement of varsity gym lights, sports uniforms, a theater sound system and digital signs at the elementary and high school. Patrons of the Wood River Rural School District have developed a great sense of pride in this exclusive fundraising activity, which brings patrons together in solidarity providing for their school.
“Without the cooperation and provided opportunities of Husker Harvest Days, the students of WRRSD would not have the multitude of experiences and benefits. We sincerely appreciate our association with Husker Harvest Days,” said Cynthia Huff, Westwood Regional School District.