Lifelong Tie to Agriculture Leads to Nexus Gift

Published on: June 18, 2020 ,

A lifelong tie to agriculture was instrumental in Dirk and Jan Petersen’s decision to invest in the Nexus project at Northeast Community College.

The Petersens, who live in Norfolk but own and operate agricultural land in Cuming County, are contributing $30,000 to the capital campaign to update the agriculture facilities at Northeast. “Our College needs to be a torchbearer, leading the drive for agriculture,” Dirk Petersen said. “The Nexus project lays the foundation for now and into the future.”

Petersen has a degree in Agricultural Engineering from UNL and said he is the fourth generation of his family to be involved in agriculture in Cuming County, so he understands the importance of agriculture to this area. “Since northeast Nebraska is the agricultural center of the state and nation, both in crop and livestock production,” he noted, “it just makes total sense that we should focus on agriculture at Northeast.”

Petersen, a past general manager at Nucor Steel in Norfolk, has been a member of the Northeast Board of Governors for nine years. “The Chuck Pohlman Ag Complex is a great building,” Petersen said, “but the rest of our current ag facilities are in severe need of upgrades. It is time for the board and administration to step up to provide 21st century facilities for our students.”

“We sincerely appreciate Dirk and Jan’s contribution to the Nexus project,” said Dr. Tracy Kruse, associate vice president of development and external affairs and executive director of the Northeast Foundation. “Dirk has been supportive of the project in his position on the Board of Governors,” she said, “and now personally with a financial donation. He really understands the need for improved facilities for our students, and the value that Northeast students provide throughout Nebraska.”

“Students who attend college here tend to stay here,” Kruse explained. “Northeast agriculture students are the next generation of farmers and ranchers, and the next generation of citizens of Norfolk and rural communities. They will send their children to area schools, shop at Main Street businesses and attend local churches.” 

“It is vital that we train young people who want to stay in this area,” Petersen said. “This project fits in with ongoing efforts designed to attract and keep young people in the area. I encourage others to invest in the future of Northeast Nebraska and agriculture through the Nexus project at Northeast Community College.”

The initial phase of construction includes a new veterinary technology clinic and classrooms, a new farm site with a large animal handling facility and other farm structures for livestock operations, a farm office and storage. The new facilities will be located near the Chuck M. Pohlman Agriculture Complex on E. Benjamin Ave. in Norfolk. Site work began in April and construction should be completed by the Fall of 2021.

The funding for the agriculture facilities will come from the College’s commitment of $10 million, as well as external fundraising to fill the gap. With a total project cost of $22.3 million, the College has raised enough funds to begin construction; however, fundraising for the Nexus campaign will continue, as more is needed for equipment, technology and furnishings.

In August 2019, the Acklie Charitable Foundation (ACF) announced a $5 million lead gift to the Nexus project. ACF was founded by the late Duane Acklie and Phyllis Acklie, both Madison County natives and graduates of Norfolk Junior College, a predecessor institution of Northeast Community College.

For more information on the Nexus Campaign, contact Kruse, at tracyk@northeast.edu, or call (402) 844-7056. Online donations may be made through agwaternexus.com. Checks may also be mailed to Nexus Campaign, Northeast Community College Foundation, P.O. Box 469, Norfolk, NE 68702-0469.