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Projects supported by the CHS Foundation are innovative in their approaches to attract talent and evolve agronomic practices for the future.

CHS Foundation awards $1 million to university precision ag and diversity initiatives

The CHS Foundation recently awarded $1 million to support student learning and success at seven colleges and universities.
Mar 3, 2021

The CHS Foundation recently awarded $1 million to support student learning and success at seven colleges and universities. The funding supported five precision agriculture and two diversity and inclusion projects impacting more than 10,000 students.

A $120,000 grant to West Texas A&M University (WTAMU) will create curriculum in seven urban high schools that targets diverse students from non-rural and non-agricultural backgrounds. Through the program, high school students will have the opportunity to meet ag industry leaders and learn about career opportunities.

“We are striving to give local high school students an educational, hands-on experience that caters to their industry interests,” says Courtney Coffman, graduate assistant, WTAMU. “Agriculture is more than just raising animals and crops. It is tied to nearly every part of our everyday lives. It is important that students learn how crucial this industry is and how many ways they can play a significant part.”

Hands-on experience was a crucial piece of all grants awarded. The CHS Foundation awarded Northeast Community College, Norfolk, Neb., a $250,000 grant to outfit an existing mobile learning lab with more equipment and provide support for  bringing the simulator to  more high school and college ag classrooms.  The trailer includes activities like soil moisture probes, a two-row precision planter and a variable rate sprayer.

“Students quickly understand the granular data and profitability when they can see the sensors, monitors and meters at work in real time,” says Kylie Penke, agriculture instructor, Oakland-Craig High . “I appreciate when I can offer this unique experience to my students without ever leaving school property.”

Other projects funded as part of the $1 million initiative include:

  • $70,000 to Bismarck State College, Bismarck, N.D., for a Precision Ag Active Learning Classroom
  • $10,000 to Redlands Community College, El Reno, Okla., to purchase Farmbot Software
  • $272,676 to University of Idaho to develop a Precision Ag Certificate program
  • $196,697 to University of Illinois to implement a new Computer Science + Crop Science major
  • $80,000 to University of Nebraska-Lincoln for a diversity student mentor program

“We believe precision agriculture and diversity and inclusion are two of the most pressing issues facing the future of agriculture,” says Nanci Lilja, president, CHS Foundation. “The ag industry needs to be innovative in the way we attract talent and how we evolve our agronomic practices for the future. These seven colleges and universities are delivering on those innovations and have unique approaches to reaching the next generation of ag leaders.”

For more on the CHS Foundation and funding initiatives, visit

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