Springbrook Adventure 2010
On May 6th and 7th the Lenox Sixth Grade attended class in the great outdoors at the exceptional Springbrook Conservation Education Center near Guthrie Center. There is so much to observe and learn at the CEC, we couldn’t
The Southern Iowa Sustainable Livestock Project
In 1994 a group of public minded citizens with a vision for the future created an organization that would help beginning farmers without a farm, connect with retiring farmers with no successor and a wish to see their work carried on. This group named their organization Ag Connect and set about getting funding, hiring staff and securing office space. I was fortunate to be hired as director of Ag Connect.
For several years this non-profit organization worked diligently trying to develop new farming opportunities for aspiring farmers. In 2006, we entered into an agreement with Heifer International to implement a new project to help beginners secure quality breeding stock. This program is known as the Southern Iowa Sustainable Livestock Project. Heifer International provided seed money to be loaned out for purchase of breeding stock. It is a very attractive loan program for two reasons. First, there is no interest paid on the loan funds during the term of the loan. Secondly, no principal payment is made the first year. Beef cow loans are for a term of five years, with the loan being paid off in four equal installments during years 2, 3, 4, and 5. Smaller species loans are made for a four year period, again with no principal payment the first year, paying off the loan with equal installments years 2, 3, and 4.
To date we have helped start 2 new sheep flocks, 2 new goat flocks, and 6 new beef cow herds over a 5 county area in South Central Iowa. We have loaned out the entire amount of seed money Heifer provided us with. As recipients repay their loans, we, in turn, reloan that money. We are well on our way into loaning the seed money a second time. It is one of the few grant programs that recycles money.
All loan applicants must demonstrate the ability to care for animals and prove they have adequate feed and shelter. All participants are asked to partner with an experienced livestock producer to serve as a mentor. Loans applications are reviewed by the Ag Connect board.
I should say that the majority of the current board members are people who helped form Ag Connect back in the mid nineties. These people very seldom miss a meeting, some traveling great distances and all taking time off from their paying jobs to volunteer their services for this organization. They never receive any financial reimbursement, very seldom get any thanks yet continue with their volunteer efforts, year after year. A very remarkable group and one that should always be mentioned when any discussion turns to getting young people involved in agriculture.
Currently the funds are targeted for use by people in Southern Iowa or Northern Missouri. Our next round of loan application consideration will begin in January of 2010. If you live in these locations and have interest in applying, click on the link below to print a copy of the application, or contact Bill Beaman, 641-202-1850 or email, firstname.lastname@example.org.