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'Brain Gain' to benefit from $1,000 AgStar grant

Cheryl Avenel-Navara (second from right) and Darlene Macklin (far right) were among those taking part in an AgStar Fund for Rural America grant presentation Thursday at Worthington High School. (submitted photo)

WORTHINGTON — The AgStar Fund for Rural America awarded a $1,000 grant Thursday to the “Brain Gain” effort in Worthington.

Brain Gain’s primary goal is to ensure young people remain in and move into the Worthington community for work. It focuses on both new and emerging industries, as well as established businesses. Another goal of Brain Gain is to look for more opportunities to increase participation of young people in civic organizations.

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The grant funds from AgStar will be used to offset transportation costs for those participating in internships, and also provide small stipends to students completing internships. Any additional funds will help with the cost of establishing a young professionals group.

“There is a huge shortage of young people going into trades like plumbing and electrical work,” said Cheryl Avenel-Navara, who wrote the grant. “With this grant, we can provide more opportunities for people to pursue more of those types of jobs.”

Avenel-Navara said attracting young people to the area starts with area businesses.

“We believe that the involvement of area businesses with our students is a great way to encourage them to go on to look at careers and pursue careers in their own community,” Avenel-Navara said.

“For AgStar, the Brain Gain program fits so well with our mission of enhancing life and agriculture in rural America,” explained Scott Gundermann, home mortgage specialist for AgStar. “To keep our rural communities thriving, it’s imperative we retain and attract youth to ensure future success.”

Darlene Macklin, executive director of the Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce, helped accept the award on behalf of the Chamber.

“We are very fortunate to have members on our committee that are all very willing to do what’s good for our students,” Macklin said.