Northeast Receives Donation From Gardner Foundation

Published on: March 31, 2021 ,

A charitable foundation based in Wakefield is contributing $50,000 to the project to build new ag facilities at Northeast Community College.

The Gardner Foundation was founded in 1990 when the Gardner Family sold their interest in the M.G. Waldbaum Company in Wakefield. The Foundation provides charitable grants to worthy tax-exempt organizations, and the Foundation’s vision has benefited recipients across eastern Nebraska, northwest Iowa and beyond. Trustees are Leslie Bebee, Kirk Gardner and David Gardner.

Bebee, president of the Gardner Foundation, said, “Agriculture is so important to our area and we are proud to support agriculture education and future agriculture leaders.”

“We hope by investing in our youth they will continue in the agriculture Industry and farm operations in Nebraska for many years to come,” Bebee continued. “Today’s youth are the future of tomorrow.”

Dr. Tracy Kruse, Northeast vice president of development and external affairs and executive director of the Northeast Foundation, expressed her appreciation for the support of the Gardner Foundation. “The Gardner Foundation investment in the Nexus project at Northeast will help provide cutting edge instruction for students in our 13 areas of agricultural study,” she said. “These students are the future of northeast Nebraska, returning to their hometowns as the next generation of farmers and ranchers and as employees of businesses that support production agriculture.”

The Nexus project includes a new veterinary technology clinic and classroom building, a combined farm operations and large animal handling facility, a new feedlot and lagoon, and other typical farm structures. These new ag facilities are currently under construction near the Chuck Pohlman Ag Complex and will replace a 100-year-old repurposed dairy barn. Construction on the project began in April 2020 and is expected to be completed by fall of 2021. Progress can be viewed in real time at

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. The total cost for construction, equipment, technology and furnishings is $22.3 million The College has raised enough funds for construction; however more is needed for equipment, technology and furnishings, so fundraising continues for the Nexus campaign.

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, or call (402) 844-7056. Online donations may be made through Checks may also be mailed to Nexus Campaign, Northeast Community College Foundation, P.O. Box 469, Norfolk, NE 68702-0469.


Photo caption: Members of the Gardner Foundation Board (l-r) David Gardner, Leslie Bebee, Kirk Gardner.