News Release

For Immediate Release

Contact: Kim Schmelz, Foundation Director
Phone: 608.822.2379
Mail: 1800 Bronson Blvd., Fennimore, WI 53809
Date of Release: November 28, 2022

Compeer Financial awards $50,000 grant to Southwest Tech

Southwest Tech among five community and technical colleges in Wisconsin receiving educational grants

Fennimore -

Compeer Financial officials were on campus recently, where they donated $50,000 to the Southwest Tech Foundation.

The Agriculture and Rural Initiative, Compeer Financial’s donor advised fund, has granted $600,000 to community and technical colleges across the cooperative’s 144-county territory, including $50,000 to Southwest Wisconsin Technical College.

In 2021, Compeer committed $1.9 million in grants and scholarships at select colleges over the next five years with the goal of further developing agriculture’s workforce. This announcement represents the second of three rounds of grants being presented. “The future of agriculture and our clients’ farms rely on a strong, vibrant and robust agricultural workforce, and our partners in higher education provide opportunities for young adults to explore and gain hands-on experience in these careers,” said Greg Nelson, a Compeer financial director. “Our clients continue to list workforce development among their highest concerns, and these grants and scholarships are the first step to improving this challenge for the industry.”

Southwest Tech is one of five community colleges in Wisconsin receiving these grant dollars and plans to use the funding for programming and materials for its Mobile Ag Lab, in addition to support for its livestock judging teams.

“Using our Mobile Agriculture (Ag) Lab, previously funded by Compeer, we will host on-site programming at area high schools and community events throughout the year to better inform the community about the opportunities in agriculture as well as the impact of the agricultural community,” stated Deb Ihm, director of Agriculture at Southwest Tech. “These hands-on activities and workshops will engage students in the latest agricultural resources and encourage area middle/high school students to visit campus and enroll in Southwest Tech’s many agricultural program choices.”

Southwest Tech first began participating in livestock and dairy judging competitions in 2018. These competitions have been very popular among both current and incoming students, with faculty increasingly being told that the college’s competitive ranking is informing enrollment decisions. Recognizing the strong student demand for these competitions, Compeer funds will be used to build upon Southwest Tech’s current success by participating in more national competitions, and providing students with more professional development and coaching to best prepare them for competitions and their role in the agriculture industry.

“Without the funding from Compeer Financial it’s likely that students would have to try to fundraise the money on their own for these competitions or pay their own way,” said Ihm. “For many of our students this is their first time out of the tri-state area of Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa and an experience that they cannot afford on their own. We are confident that by participating in these competitions they will bring the experiences back to their home farm and back to the local community to better serve the field of agriculture in this area.”

Southwest Tech also received two annual $1,250 scholarships to award students enrolled in the school’s agriculture program or pathway over the next four years.

Thirty colleges were selected as partners based on their agricultural education offerings, agriculture workforce development and geographic impact.

The Agriculture and Rural Initiative was created by the Compeer Financial Board of Directors in 2019 to make signature investments in programs and projects that directly address the needs of farmers and others who work in agriculture. “As we enter the second year of this support to community and technical colleges, we are seeing positive impacts on the students studying agriculture by providing one-of-a-kind educational opportunities,” said Nelson, of Spring Valley, Wisconsin. “These grants represent Compeer’s commitment to champion rural, by supporting our clients and communities, creating sustainable and long-term success in the industry.”

About the Agriculture and Rural Initiative
The Agriculture and Rural Initiative was created by Compeer Financial’s Board of Directors in 2019 to make signature investments in programs and projects that are high priorities to member-owners. To date, $10 million has been invested in the initiative. To date, the initiative has awarded $1.8 million to support communities during the pandemic and agriculture workforce development.

The Agriculture and Rural Initiative is managed by the Compeer Financial Fund for Rural America Board of Trustees, who oversee the organization’s corporate giving efforts. More information about Compeer’s corporate giving programs can be found at

About Compeer Financial
Compeer Financial is a member-owned Farm Credit cooperative serving and supporting agriculture and rural communities. The $27.7 billion organization provides loans, leases, risk management and other financial services throughout 144 counties in Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Based in the Upper Midwest, Compeer Financial exists to champion the hopes and dreams of rural America, while providing personalized service and expertise to clients and the agriculture industry.

Compeer Financial is the third largest cooperative of the Farm Credit System, a nationwide network of lending institutions supporting agriculture and rural communities with reliable, consistent credit and financial services. Learn more about Compeer Financial.


Contact: Deb Ihm

Director of Agriculture at Southwest Tech | 608.822.2741 |

Posted in Agriculture