Nevada FFA was presented with a $5,000 check from CoBank through the director of the corporate giving program.
Nevada High School agriculture education instructor and FFA advisor Kevin Cooper applied for the grant in November of 2016 to purchase a Strickland sweet potato harvesting plow. For several years, Nevada FFA has collaborated with Andy Swanson of Swanson Farms in starting and producing sweet potato production and harvesting. One of the challenges was getting the sweet potatoes harvested efficiently. Swanson had used traditional potato plows, and variations of that, but the plant vines would hang up, and depth control was uneven. “You know, in sweet potato country, they make a harvesting plow,” Swanson mentioned to Cooper in the fall of 2016.
Sara Claussen, KEY Cooperative director of communications, suggested to Cooper that Nevada FFA apply for a CoBank director’s corporate giving program grant. Jim Magnuson, general manager,(now retired), for KEY Cooperative was on the CoBank board of directors. “We have always had a good relationship with Jim Magnuson and KEY Cooperative” added Cooper.
On Sept. 11, confirmation of the $5,000 grant was communicated, and the check arrived on Sept. 28. The plow order was placed and arrived at Nevada High School on Oct. 12. On Oct. 16, Swanson Farms provided a John Deere 6155R diesel tractor to mount the plow on. By the 18th, the plow was on the tractor and Cooper drove it to the field and tried a couple of rows. On Oct. 19, Cooper and three students harvested and plowed until dark. A bountiful harvest occurred on Oct. 20, when two classes of students witnessed the plow in action, and gathered sweet potatoes.
On Oct. 20, there was a check presentation, with Boyd Brodie, KEY Cooperative general manager, and Sara Claussen. The sweet potatoes have been and will be used in the Nevada School lunch program at no cost. Community foodbanks and the annual FFA Winter Dinner will also utilize the sweet potatoes.