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Northeast Student Agronomy Field Day earns support of Dan Gillespie Soil Health Fund

Northeast Student Agronomy Field Day earns support of Dan Gillespie Soil Health Fund

NORFOLK, Neb. -- Northeast Community College’s Student Agronomy Field Day has earned the support of the Dan Gillespie Soil Health Fund (DGSHF) in the form of a grant that will further DGSHF’s mission to support the agricultural leaders of the future and provide enhancements to the hands-on agriculture learning experience scheduled for late September 2024.

The grant was doubled when DGSHF utilized its affiliation with Nebraska Community Foundation (NCF) to secure a Youth Engagement Grant made possible by an anonymous donor to NCF. 

“As we reviewed this year’s many grant applications, the Northeast Student Agronomy Field Day request stood out immediately,” said Randy Pryor, chair of the DGSHF advisory committee. “This event very much aligns with the Dan Gillespie Soil Health Fund’s mission of furthering education and educational practices related to soil health and regenerative agriculture, including no-till farming, water conservation, tree conservation, and planting cover crops.” 

The Northeast Student Agronomy Field Day is an annual event offering nearly 200 students the opportunity to participate in learning stations hosted by area agriculture professionals. For the 2024 event, Northeast will organize and implement the field day event with the help of six students who will be invited to participate in the planning committee.  

During the field day, a team of more than 25 industry and public agency collaborators will lead Northeast students through demonstrations focused on agronomy and agriculture education. The professionals from USDA-NRCS, Corteva/Pioneer, Wolken Seed, AKRS, CLAAS, ALF Agronomy and Farmers Pride, among others, will engage students at each of the learning stations. The grant from DGSHF will be used to provide trolleys to transport students from station to station as they learn about the fund’s namesake, Dan Gillespie, a life-long Nebraska farmer and long-time no-till farming practitioner, advocate and educator. Station topics include rehabilitating degraded fields, silage production, equipment demonstrations, molasses-based fertilizers, tillage comparisons and more. 

“We are excited to partner with the Dan Gillespie Soil Health Fund on this field day,” said Northeast Director of Ag Program Jill Heemstra. “This grant will allow us to break the students into smaller groups so that we can make each station more interactive, encourage more questions and maximize learning.” 


About Dan Gillespie Soil Health Fund 

The Dan Gillespie Soil Health Fund honors Dan Gillespie, a life-long farmer and long-time no-till farming practitioner and advocate, by raising funds and making grants to support soil health. The fund is dedicated to education and educational practices related to soil health and regenerative agriculture, including but not limited to no-till farming, water conservation, tree conservation and planting cover crops. 

Grants from the fund may support educational events and programming for youth, current farmers and ranchers and others involved in agriculture. The geographic focus of the Fund is Nebraska and surrounding states. A volunteer fund advisory committee works actively to increase charitable giving and award grants to causes and projects that are addressing emerging needs and future opportunities to educate, inform and support healthy soil practices. Established in 2021, the Dan Gillespie Soil Health Fund is an affiliated fund of Nebraska Community Foundation. For more information visit  

About Nebraska Community Foundation 

Nebraska Community Foundation unleashes abundant local assets, inspires charitable giving and connects ambitious people to build stronger communities and a Greater Nebraska. 

Headquartered in Lincoln, the Foundation serves communities, donors and organizations by providing financial management, strategic development, education and training to a statewide network of 1,500 volunteers serving more than 270 communities. 

In the last five years, 45,993 contributions have been made to Nebraska Community Foundation and its affiliated funds. Since 1994, Nebraska Community Foundation has reinvested $517 million in Nebraska’s people and places. For information, visit 

About Northeast Community College 

Northeast Community College represents a way of thinking about higher education that proves it's possible to balance high-quality academics with high-impact experiences. Northeast offers a way that is more responsible, more accountable and more aligned with the realities of the future. 

Northeast is dedicated to the success of students and the region it serves. As part of its strategic plan, Northeast charts a course to better address the needs of its 20-county service area by delivering programs and services that will drive the success of graduates, the workforce, and the economy of the region. 

Northeast Youth Engagement Grant cutline 

David Gillespie (center), representing the Dan Gillespie Soil Health Fund (DGSHF), presents a certificate on Friday, May 17, noting a grant from DGSHF and a Nebraska Community Foundation anonymous donor that will provide $1,500 for the Northeast Agronomy Field Day in September to benefit students. Also shown are Jill Heemstra (left), director of the ag program, and Tracy Kruse, vice president of Development & External Affairs. (Northeast Community College)