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Non-profits benefit from Monsanto fund

WORTHINGTON -- Schools, fire departments, ambulance services and a community center are among the non-profit organizations that will benefit from $45,000 in donations from the Monsanto Fund through its America's Farmers Grow Communities program.

This year, the Monsanto Fund awarded more than $5 million to 1,271 counties in 39 states. The fund typically awards $2,500 to one farmer in each county to give to a charity of his or her choice, but with the ongoing drought in parts of the country, Monsanto this year doubled the donation in more than 1,000 counties declared drought disaster areas by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Counties in the Daily Globe coverage area all received double donations.

Tom Feit of Rushmore was selected as the Nobles County recipient. He chose to give $2,500 to the Reading Community Center and $2,500 to the Wilmont Fire Department.

Jackson County recipient Kathryn Christoffer split her $5,000 award between the Immanuel Lutheran School in Lakefield and Southwest Star Concept School in Okabena.

"I have grandkids in both of those schools," Christoffer, of Round Lake, said.

SSC will use its $2,500 to purchase a new door for the school and also to put toward technology; while she wasn't sure how Immanuel Lutheran would use its funds.

Christoffer said she's applied for the Monsanto Fund award for the last couple of years.

"I couldn't believe it," she said of winning. "I don't ever win anything."

Checks will be presented to the two schools on March 26.

In Rock County, Jamie Pap gave the entire $5,000 award to the Luverne Christian School Society. The school was presented with its funds from Monsanto about a month ago.

Pap said the money will be used to help fund busing for area kids who attend Southwest Christian School in Edgerton.

"I know there's a need there with transportation costs going up," Pap said.

This was Pap's first time applying for the funds after learning about the America's Farmers Grow Communities program from a local Monsanto representative.

"He encouraged all area farmers to apply for it," Pap said, adding that he was pretty shocked to learn his charities would get the money for Rock County.

"It's really neat that they do that," Pap said of Monsanto. "It will help out big time for Luverne Christian School Society to have those extra funds."

Windom Area Schools and the Windom Volunteer Fire Department will each received $2,500 donations, thanks to Ryan Visker's selection as the Monsanto Fund award recipient in Cottonwood County.

In Murray County, Lake Wilson farmer Terry York hasn't yet decided which entity or organizations will receive a share of the $5,000.

Rodney Altena of Pipestone chose the Edgerton Ambulance Association and the Pipestone Volunteer Fire Department as the recipients of $2,500 each.

In Iowa, Doug Holtz of Melvin asked that $2,500 be given to the Melvin Fire Department and $2,500 to the Melvin Ambulance Service.

Dickinson County winner David Gonnerman of Spirit Lake chose the Lake Park Fire Department to receive $2,500, and has not yet selected a second organization to receive the remaining $2,500.

Todd Vandestouwe of Inwood, Iowa, was the Lyon County winner. He chose the City of Inwood to receive a portion of the $5,000 contribution, and has yet to decide who will receive the remaining portion.

Monsanto launched its fund to benefit rural communities in 2010. Each year, producers are invited to complete an application to win the donation for a nonprofit entity within their county. Fire departments, 4-H clubs, FFA chapters, schools, and other civic groups are often the recipients.

A list of Grow Communities winners, as well as more information about the program, may be found online at

Daily Globe Reporter Julie Buntjer may be reached at 376-7330.

Julie Buntjer

Julie Buntjer joined the Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at

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