News Release

For Immediate Release

Contact: Kim Schmelz, Foundation Director
Phone: 608.822.2379
Mail: 1800 Bronson Blvd., Fennimore, WI 53809
Date of Release: February 3, 2021

Compeer Financial commits $1.9 million to developing agriculture’s workforce

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Southwest Wisconsin Technical College has learned that it will be one of 30 post-secondary colleges to receive funding from Compeer Financial, a Farm Credit cooperative based in the Upper Midwest.

Compeer Financial has committed $1.9 million in grants and scholarships over the next five years through its Agriculture and Rural Initiative.

The shortage of skilled workers is an ongoing challenge for farmers and other agriculture-related businesses. Compeer Financial, an organization whose mission is enriching agriculture and rural America, is serious about addressing the problem and is putting significant financial support behind the effort.

Compeer is partnering with community and technical colleges to bolster vocational agriculture education programs and make them more accessible to young adults. Last week, representatives from Compeer’s Fund for Rural America Board met with 30 post-secondary colleges to announce the first major gift from the Agriculture and Rural Initiative. The $1.9 million in grants and scholarships will go toward educational training for young adults pursuing a future in agricultural-related careers.

Southwest Wisconsin Technical College is among the colleges selected and is excited about the opportunities the partnership with Compeer will provide for students, farmers and businesses in the area.

“This funding initiative from Compeer Financial is wonderful news,” said Deb Ihm, director of agriculture at Southwest Tech.  “We are excited to be named a recipient of this award. Our Agriculture faculty and staff share in Compeer’s passion in providing relevant and timely education for students interested in pursuing a career in the agriculture industry. Business partnerships like this enhance our ability to provide activities in and out of the classroom that teach both leadership and technical skills desired by our employers in southwest Wisconsin.”

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. Compeer Financial clients often list workforce development among their highest concerns.

“The agriculture industry offers an array of career opportunities, and jobs are waiting for those with the right skills,” said John Monson, chief mission and marketing officer. “We’re excited to work with our partners in higher education to provide opportunities for more young adults in rural communities and enhance training programs to prepare them for a successful future in agriculture.”

Compeer’s investment will be in the form of $1.6 million in grants and $375,000 in scholarships. Technical and community colleges participating in the effort serve 144 counties in Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin making up Compeer’s territory and have an established agriculture education program or pathway. Colleges may use the grants for equipment and technology; student recruitment, outreach, retention and professional development; and teacher training.

Each partner college will also receive two annual $1,250 scholarships to award to students enrolled in the school’s agriculture program or pathway over the next five years.

In addition to extending financial support, Compeer will connect partner colleges with team members who are alumni or live in the area to serve as resources for teachers, students and advisors. Through these relationships, Compeer can also be a conduit between graduates looking to put their training to work in the agriculture industry with clients who have jobs available.

“Compeer is a strong supporter of high school programs and organizations focused on agricultural education for youth,” said Roger Newell, a trustee of the Fund for Rural America. “This new area of focus will help take those students with a passion for agriculture and prepare them for life-long, rewarding careers.”

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, $7.5 million has been invested in the Initiative.  In 2020, the Initiative provided $300,000 to support pandemic relief efforts.

The initiative’s current priorities are on efforts related to rural infrastructure: food processing and supply chain, and vocational education: agricultural skills and workforce. 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 efforts can be found at

About Compeer Financial

Compeer Financial is a member-owned Farm Credit cooperative serving and supporting agriculture and rural communities. The $23.7 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.

| Southwest Wisconsin Technical College is one of 16 institutions that comprise the Wisconsin Technical College System. Southwest Tech offers more than 60 programs in a wide variety of disciplines. Courses are offered on campus, online and in a blended format. The college provides apprenticeship, certificate, technical diploma, and associate degree programs that respond to district workforce needs and prepare student for family-sustaining jobs and career advancement. |



Posted in Agriculture