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USDA Rural Development Assists Nebraska Vocational Agriculture Center with Needed Improvements

Vicki Schurman
Release Date

USDA Rural Development announces a $1,255,000 loan to the Nebraska Vocational Agricultural Center in Aurora, Nebraska.  The funds will help with needed improvements at the Center and to refinance debt.

"We are very excited to be working with the USDA on our upcoming project. The Leadership Center is an incredible facility and these updates will help us serve our community and guests even better. The Nebraska Vocational Agricultural Foundation Board of Directors and I would also like to thank all our partners working on this including the USDA, Pinnacle Bank and Cornerstone Bank," said Maile Ilac Boeder, Nebraska Vocational Agricultural Center.

Improvements to be made to the Center include replacement of the roof, remodeling of the kitchen and dining area, and the upgrading of the mechanical equipment and kitchen equipment.  Also, the refinancing of current debt will occur. The USDA loan will be repaid over 40 years at a four percent interest rate.

"Communities need a place to gather that is pleasing to be in.  This Center is in need of some updates to keep it functional for future generations and we are glad that USDA can assist," said Community Programs Specialist Janice Stopak, USDA Rural Development.

The Nebraska Vocational Agricultural Foundation was founded in 1968 after Irv Wedeking, Dr. Ted Ward Lodge and Norval McCaslin purchased the original property. The property was purchased for the Nebraska Future Farmers of America (FFA) leadership camps. The first camp was held in 1971 and students slept in tents.

Over the 46 year history, the property was developed and expanded in property, buildings and services. There is now more than 13,000 square feet of meeting space under one roof, a gymnasium, indoor pool, full service kitchen, fully stocked catch and release pond, sand volleyball pits and much more. There are 60 lodge rooms and three dorms that sleep up to 158 people.

Every year the Nebraska FFA hold their COLT Conference and NPOWER conferences as well as three Leadership Skills Contests and a number of FFA Chapter retreats at the Center. Also served are 4-H and University Extension throughout Nebraska. Other groups include Boys Town, Nebraska Commission for the Blind and Sight Impaired, Boys Hope Girls Hope, University of Nebraska Lincoln International Student Retreat, University of Nebraska Kearney-Multicultural Retreat, Hastings College Music Department, Nebraska Corn Growers, Nebraska Art Teachers Association, Aurora Cooperative and numerous other groups from around the state and country. The site is host to numerous church groups as well as families for reunions and many more. Nebraska Vocational Agriculture Center partners with Aurora Public Schools for special education swims and on Senior Success day.

In 2013, more than 45,000 people utilized The Leadership Center in a variety of ways.

The project was funded through the USDA Rural Development Community Facility Direct Loan program.  For more information contact Janice Stopak at 402-437-5743.

President Obama’s plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities. Under the President’s leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America’s economy, small towns and rural communities. USDA’s investments in rural communities support the rural way of life that stands as the backbone of our American values.