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Goodhue 4-H Harvest Drive kicks off Saturday

By Janet Kubat Willette

Date Modified: 10/16/2012 2:16 PM

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GOODHUE COUNTY, Minn. — Goodhue County 4-H kicks off its first annual Harvest Drive Saturday.

The drive, which began last week, lasts through the end of the year. It's an effort to raise funds to support Goodhue County Extension programming.

In 2010, the Goodhue County Extension Committee went to the county commissioners and told them they would take less money in an effort to help the county meet their budget. They were successful in raising $20,000 through an alumni fund drive, Hog Roast and other fundraisers, said Bob Eppen of Goodhue, chairman of the county Extension committee.

The arrangement has continued, with the county telling Extension how much funding they will receive through them. It's up to Extension supporters to raise the rest of the needed funding to support Extension programs, which include not only 4-H, but also a Home Study Group and Master Gardeners.

Costs are all up and their county funding has stayed about the same, so the Goodhue County 4-H Development Committee sought advice from Cara Miller, executive director of the Minnesota 4-H Foundation.

Miller said she's been talking to volunteers and staff from Goodhue County Extension for more than a year on how to raise private support for their program.

Previously, they did fund raisers, which she defines as a one-time gathering of funds in exchange for something. She's steering the committee toward development, which is working with individuals to ask them to support the program in return for receiving a good Extension program in the county. It's a philanthrophic, long-term investment, Miller said.

Goodhue County is launching this effort with the Harvest Drive, where farmers are asked to donate grain at the elevator to benefit 4-H. Several grain elevators throughout the county are participating.

The process works like this: A farmer arrives at a participating elevator with a load of grain. Tell the person who's unloading your grain the amount you'd like to donate, sign the receipt and the elevator will submit the information. Donations will go to Goodhue County 4-H via the Minnesota 4-H Foundation, a nonprofit 501c3 organization. Donors will receive a statement through the Minnesota 4-H Foundation.

"We are grateful for the overwhelming support from the elevators to make this Harvest Drive possible," said Jill Isaacson Swenson, an Extension Development Committee member. "Without hesitation, the elevators said yes to this endeavor showing how valuable they believe 4-H is to our communities."

Participating elevators: Ag Partners in Goodhue, Bombay Elevator and Interstate Mills in Kenyon, Nerstrand, Randolph and Cannon Falls; AgriCenter in Nerstrand, Farm Country Co-op in Pine Island, Red Wing Grain and Gerken's Feed and Grain in Zumbrota and Lake City.

Farmers who store their grain at home or deliver to terminals are asked to contact Isaacson Swenson at 507-330-0585 for information on donating grain to 4-H.

All donations are tax-deductible.

Farmers can donate 100 bushels or $100 worth, said Mamie Luhmann, Goodhue County 4-H program coordinator. They can open their truck for 10 seconds and donate whatever comes out to Goodhue County 4-H. All support is appreciated, she said.

The grain will be marketed the day it is delivered to the elevator, Luhmann said.

Funds from the Harvest Drive will be used for pay for trips to the state fair for 4-H'ers who earn trips, scholarships and operating dollars. It all goes into one fund, she said.

Goodhue County has the third largest 4-H program in the state with 642 members in 2011 and 275 adult volunteers.

"I'm very proud to say I'm from Goodhue County 4-H," Isaacson Swenson said.

Miller said Goodhue County 4-H is piloting the Harvest Drive, which has been done in Iowa for quite a long time. Jackson County will also do something this fall, Miller said.