News

Diller-Odell Public Schools navigates challenge of unbalanced state funding

Like most rural schools in Nebraska, Diller-Odell Public Schools faces an imbalanced funding stream caused by a complex property tax and school funding system.

While no school is the same, Diller-Odell, located on the Jefferson-Gage County line along the Kansas border, shows the tumultuous times rural schools and the agriculture economy have faced in recent years. With little state funding, the district is reliant on local property taxes and, because of a recent spike in land valuations, most of the burden is on area farmers.

Rural energy program benefits South Dakota businesses

Last month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) awarded more than $380,000 to assist South Dakota businesses in reducing their energy costs and improving energy efficiency. The funding comes from the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), which provides grants and loans to rural businesses, ag producers, and farmers. REAP funds must be used for the installation of renewable energy systems or to make energy efficiency improvements. 

Red Fern Farm builds resiliency through diversification

Tom Wahl and Kathy Dice, owners of Red Fern Farm, have built resiliency in their operation to overcome challenging weather.

Nestled in a heavily wooded area just south of Grandview, Iowa, Red Fern Farm offers a unique experience for customers to harvest their own Iowa-grown fruits and nuts.

The owners grow a variety of fruit and nut trees—including chestnuts, persimmons, heartnut, pawpaw, and Asian pear. Their primary market is a “you pick” business throughout the summer, where customers schedule a time to pick from the trees and pay per pound harvested.

Staff spotlight: Studying abroad reinforces love of rural communities

Growing up on an acreage outside of Firth, Nebraska, my responsibility was to take care of the cattle—from the bottle-fed calves to the big bull we knighted Sir Loin. I broke the ice for them in winter and stuck them with needles when the time came for vaccinations. My summers were spent detasseling, hunting down thistles in my grandpa’s pasture, and swimming in creeks when they swelled with rainwater (after making sure my tetanus shot was up-to-date).

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