Fund-raising for greenhouse in full bloom

Published on Tuesday, 31 July 2018 14:09
Written by thenebraskasigna

By GREG SCELLIN
Signal Editor

Growing crops (plants) is a big, big deal in Fillmore County.
Fillmore Central Ag. Educator and FFA advisor Kurt VanDeWalle and the FC FFA Boosters want to make growing plants a big deal in the local school system as well.
VanDeWalle recently received permission from the FC School Board to purchase a greenhouse.  The 24-foot by 48-foot greenhouse will be primarily used and managed by FC agriculture students and FC FFA members.  Part of the agreement for the project from the school board was that no school funds would be used for the purchase or construction of the greenhouse.  The school district will pay for utilities and upkeep for the greenhouse.
Last week, VanDeWalle and FC FFA Booster Club President Larry Nun noted that previous fund-raising has allowed for a 50 percent down payment on the greenhouse and it is being constructed.  Once funds are secured, the building will be delivered.  In the mean time, site preparation and dirt work will begin.  The complete project has a price tag of between $65,000-70,000.  This total is about half greenhouse and half labor and site preparation.  Other costs include pouring a concrete floor and installing utilities.
"I think the preliminary work is on schedule," VanDeWalle said.  "Dirt work should happen pretty soon.  We did the 50 percent down to get it started at the factory.  There will be little waiting for it once we get the funding together."
Some of the delay with the project is due to the work on the north side of the FC High School.  Contractor vehicles and high traffic has made dirt work virtually impossible at the site of where the greenhouse will sit.  The new structure will be located just south of the present tree line behind the high school and just west of the chainlink fence surrounding the FC Football and Track facility.  The greenhouse will also be just north of the current walking path onto the track and field.
The FC FFA Booster Club has a goal of having the additional $50,000 needed for the project to be raised by September 15.  Donations for the project are encouraged to be made through the I Believe in the Future of Ag campaign facilitated by the Nebraska FFA Foundation.  Corporate sponsors have partnered with the Nebraska FFA Foundation for this campaign by providing $35,000 towards matching funds for participating FFA chapters.  All monies received go right back to the local FFA chapter, in addition to a portion of matching funds.  All donations are tax deductible.  Donations can also be made directly to the school.
At the beginning of the project, there was talk of pursuing one, large corporate sponsor for the greenhouse.
"We decided against going for one large donor," Nun said.  "We want to let everyone donate."
Donors will be recognized by signage on or in the building.  Donation levels begin at $1,000 for Bronze and move to Platinum for donations of $10,000 or more.
"Any donation amount is appreciated...we decided to start somewhere for special recognition," Nun said.
Nun also commented that all greenhouse-project donors will be recognized in some form.
VanDeWalle sees the greenhouse being used for plant science and horticulture classes; biology and food & nutrition classes; construction technology classes; along with a myriad of agriculture class uses including natural resources, agribusiness, animal science, independent agriculture and identifying a large amount of plant structures.
"In Nebraska, you can't grow things for over half of the school year (winter, early spring months)," VanDeWalle said.  I want this buildings' focus to be on education,  Right now, 50 percent of Nebraska FFA chapters have greenhouses.  I want this also to be used for research...hands-on study.  These kids will get a lot more education out here than in a book."
Nun and VanDeWalle noted the FC greenhouse will be a little bigger than ones in surrounding towns.
"We wanted to make sure it will be big enough," Nun said.  "Once it's built.  It's built."
Nun also noted he wants to keep all the subcontractor work as local as possible.  He also said he could see FFA members having home-raised plants ready to sell in the spring of 2019.
"I hope things fall into place where the greenhouse can be used the second semester of this coming school year," VanDeWalle said.
For more information on this project or how to make a donation, you can contact VanDeWalle at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  You can reach Nun by phone at 402-759-0506.