One of the largest family-owned pork producers in the nation is investing $50,000 in the Nexus project at Northeast Community College in Norfolk, Neb.
"At Christensen Farms, we are fully committed to supporting agriculture education as well as the communities we operate in," says Glenn Stolt, Christensen Farms CEO. "Now more than ever before, it is critically important to build and maintain robust education institutes and programs like NEXUS providing the next generation of leaders with the education and skills needed to support and sustain our noble mission in agriculture, which is feeding our communities, across the nation and around the world. Recent events have highlighted the essential, albeit often overlooked, role agriculture plays in our daily lives; from food to fiber and fuel. While agriculture has evolved, it has been, and continues to be the foundation upon which our local and global economies are built.
"We are excited to see the opportunities the NEXUS project will generate. Yes, opportunities for future generations who will be joining the workforce, but also, for the long-term viability and sustainability of our rural communities and businesses."
Christensen Farms is based in Sleepy Eye, Minn. and has pork production, truck wash and feed mill operations located in northeast Nebraska. In this region, they employ more than 100 people, who all help to support and achieve the mission of Christensen Farms.
"The pork industry is a rapidly growing sector of the agriculture economy of Nebraska," says Tracy Kruse, associate vice president of development and external affairs and executive director of the Northeast Foundation. "The new facilities planned at Northeast will support that growth, training both the next generation of employees as well as future farmers and ranchers."
Christensen Farms markets more than 3 million hogs per year. The company operates throughout the Midwest with facilities in Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Illinois and South Dakota. Christensen Farms owns three feed mills, manages 148,000 sows on 44 farms, and oversees more than 350 nurseries and grow finish sites. The company employs nearly 1,000 people and maintains 1,500 contract partnerships.
"We are pleased to have Christensen Farms join other agricultural firms, financial institutions and area foundations as partners in the Nexus project," Kruse says. "Their generous contribution will help provide the modern classroom and lab space needed to teach 21st century agricultural skills."
The initial phase of construction includes a new veterinary technology clinic and classrooms, a new farm site with a large animal handling facility and other farm structures for livestock operations, a farm office and storage. The new facilities will be located near the Chuck M. Pohlman Agriculture Complex on East Benjamin Avenue in Norfolk. Site work began in April and construction should be completed by the fall of 2021.
The funding for the agriculture facilities will come from the College's commitment of $10 million, as well as external fundraising to fill the gap. With a total project cost of $22.3 million, the College has raised enough funds to begin construction; however, fundraising for the Nexus campaign will continue, as more is needed for equipment, technology and furnishings.
In August 2019, the Acklie Charitable Foundation announced a $5 million lead gift to the Nexus project. ACF was founded by the late Duane Acklie and Phyllis Acklie, both Madison County natives and graduates of Norfolk Junior College, a predecessor institution of Northeast Community College.