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FFA Chapter Receives Funding for Much-needed Livestock Space Thanks to Local Champions and Compeer

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Home > Education & Events > December 2018 > FFA Chapter Receives Funding for Much-needed Livestock Space Thanks to Local Champions and Compeer
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In preparation for the next herd of adopted beef calves, Rod Main, FFA advisor for ROWVA High School, Oneida, Illinois, went to check out the barn north of the school. As he ran his hands along the front, thinking about putting in a sliding door, he realized how thin the walls were.
 
“I can stick my hand right through there,” he thought to himself. Rod knew he needed to fully reskin the barn and put in new walls and insulation before he could even think about installing a new door or bringing in baby calves.
 
Each year, the ROWVA FFA chapter adopts orphaned calves and bottle-feeds them until they are weaned. This helps both local farmers with their operation and teaches high school students about the importance of raising and caring for animals. The program has been running for years, but the worn barn where the calves were raised wasn’t going to keep them warm and comfortable.
 
COMP8BRAN072_CropInsurance-GiveBack_Funding_775-blog-image.jpgKnowing how important the bottle-feeding program was to students and the community, Rod had to find a creative solution for raising money to fund the barn remodel. He thought back to a recent conversation he had with his crop insurance officer, Shane Kaiser from Compeer Financial.
 
As Shane and Rod met to discuss the updates to Rod’s crop insurance policies and a coverage plan for the upcoming season, Shane mentioned Compeer’s program to provide funding for rural communities in the form of scholarships or grants.
 
A corn and soybean farmer in addition to his day job, Rod has used Compeer Financial for years to help run, grow and protect his operation, using the company’s lending and insurance solutions. His connections with the financial officers have gotten him through good and bad times on the farm and doubled as resources as he teaches his students.
 
Along with being his crop insurance partner, Shane volunteers for the FFA chapter, teaching students about his own passion of forestry and helping them prepare for their annual forestry competitions.
 
Shane and his alumni president Josh Rollins, Financial Officer also of Compeer Financial, encouraged Rod to apply for a grant with Compeer Financial to fundraise for the barn remodel. Shane helped him through the paperwork of securing the grant, while Josh raised additional money through the alumni foundation.

 
“I see the folks at Compeer Financial giving back to the community all the time,” Rod says. “In addition to this project, they also helped fund some landscape improvement for the school district and they’re always there to help out the local community.”
 
After securing the grant and running additional fundraising, the ROWVA FFA chapter had enough capital to start work on the barn. Along with the volunteer efforts of the high school students, local contractors completed the technical construction projects, making the effort a true community project. The building is now insulated and sided and needs just a few finishing touches before it sees use in spring 2019.
 
“Now we have room for the calves, chickens and, hopefully, more animals soon,” Rod says. “We also have machinery storage and a hay storage loft, which will make all of our operations easier.”
 
Most ag students at ROWVA didn’t grow up on a farm. For the ROWVA students, having more species and a good barn to house them means expanded opportunities to learn about other areas of agriculture production and exposure to leadership and career-building opportunities.
 
“One year, we had a sick calf and we had a vet come in and teach the kids about scours,” Rod says. “They learned how to identify, treat and care for sick animals, which is something that happens all the time on-farm.”
 
In addition to the hands-on livestock experience, ROWVA students are learning about aquaculture, grain farming and horticulture.
 
“I like having hands-on opportunities, because when we’re talking fertility in class and kids see the white tanks in the fields, you can talk about it and apply learning to real-life situations,” Rod adds.
 
For Rod, it’s about helping kids learn how to take care of something and learn responsibility.
 
“A lot of my students grow up to be farmers, seed salesmen, realtors and electricians because they see the real-life application from these experiences,” Rod says. “Some run their own businesses now and that’s really rewarding.”
 
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