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SD Ag Foundation awards grant funding to innovative youth ag education projects-March 11, 2019

SD Ag Foundation accepts $4M challenge from Gov. Daugaard & SD Community Foundation-March 20, 2018

SD Ag Foundation awards 23 grants totaling $34,165 towards youth ag education-February 1, 2018

South Dakota Agricultural Foundation Introduces Education, Leadership Programs

Chris Maxwell
Executive Director
(605) 280-2895

PIERRE, S.D. — On National Ag Day and the first anniversary of its launch, The South Dakota Agricultural Foundation announces new initiatives focusing on education, leadership, entrepreneurship, and economic development.

They include:
• a Youth Ag Education Innovation and Leadership Grants program,
• a potential expansion of ‘Building Our South Dakota Rural Communities’ (BOSDRC) Grants in partnership with the South Dakota Department of Agriculture, and
• ‘Adventures in Food’, a leadership program promoting entrepreneurship and careers in agriculture.

Applications to these programs open this Fall. Also, on the horizon is an Economic Development Assessment Initiative to identify and work with organizations with innovative approaches to South Dakota’s agricultural economic development.

“We want to impact the future of South Dakota agriculture. In acting now — through youth education and entrepreneurship initiatives — The South Dakota Ag Foundation hopes to play a big role in creating future opportunities for the next generation of leaders in the field,” said Nate Franzen, President of the Agri-Business Division of First Dakota National Bank, and President of The South Dakota Ag Foundation board.


The Youth Ag Education Innovation and Leadership Grants is an initiative to support innovative ideas in youth agricultural education. There are a number of new as well as existing creative solutions offering agriculture-related programs to the younger generation. The new program will support and expand these solutions to be more inclusive, collaborative, and resourceful.

Leadership and entrepreneurship play a significant part in increasing awareness of and interest in agriculture and agriculture-related careers. Through unique experiences, Adventures in Food will empower 13 to 17-year-old students in the state to explore all food and agriculture career options in South Dakota.

The Economic Development Assessment Initiative and the foundation’s ongoing focus on expanding philanthropy in South Dakota agriculture will be more long-term efforts. All these programs will be funded by allocations of committed funds and new resources brought in to support The South Dakota Agricultural Foundation.

“The South Dakota Ag Foundation is determined to help support and grow philanthropy in agriculture by demonstrating through programming the importance we place on education, leadership development, and partnerships,” said Chris Maxwell, executive director of the foundation. “We want to be intentional in everything we do to support agricultural growth and to build a positive, pro-active community around it in South Dakota,” he said.

For more information on The South Dakota Agricultural Foundation, partnership opportunities and these programs, visit or email



Founded on National Ag Day in March, 2016, The South Dakota Agricultural Foundation is a private, independent nonprofit organization. Its mission is to invest in the future of South Dakota agriculture through a focus on education, innovation, diversification, action and opportunity. Through programming and communication, the organization wants to be a relevant, positive and proactive force for change in the industry.

CONTACT: Lindsey Philips, Communications Director, South Dakota Community Foundation, 605.280.9743,
or Buddy Seiner, Community Development Coordinator, South Dakota Community Foundation, 800.888.1842,

South Dakota Agricultural Foundation Established on National Ag Day

PIERRE – On National Ag Day, the South Dakota Agricultural Foundation announces the establishment of an endowment fund within the South Dakota Community Foundation focused on investing in the future of the industry. Initial foundation partners have committed $1.5 million to this effort over the next five years. They include First Dakota National Bank; Farm Credit Services of America; Dacotah Bank; Valley Queen Cheese Factory; Legend Seeds; farmers, ranchers and other individual donors.

“We are very excited to be a part of a coalition of private sector stakeholders that is leading a new effort to encourage investment in the future of agriculture in our state,” says Nate Franzen, president of the Agri- Business Division of First Dakota National Bank. “Ag producers, business leaders and industry stakeholders have come together to create a relevant and proactive force for change in South Dakota agriculture.”

The South Dakota Agricultural Foundation will support initiatives in the areas of workforce development, industry development and diversification, working lands conservation and promotion of and service to agriculture. Funds will be used to tackle unaddressed issues as well as support existing initiatives that are positively impacting the ag sector in South Dakota.

“Agriculture is key to South Dakota’s economy,” says Bob Schmidt, senior vice president with Farm Credit Services of America in South Dakota. “We appreciate the encouragement of Governor Dennis Daugaard and the leadership of Secretary of Agriculture Lucas Lentsch to start the conversation about the future of South Dakota’s largest industry.”

The South Dakota Agricultural Foundation, led by a volunteer advisory council and Executive Director Chris Maxwell, will oversee the fundraising efforts and grant distributions from the endowment fund. The advisory council includes Bernie Christenson, Bill Even, Nate Franzen, Christine Hamilton, Nathan Jensen, Bob Schmidt, Bob Sutton, Greg Von Wald and James Walti. The council has set a goal of raising $20 million within the next five years of existence and $100 million by 2031. The group will seek to partner with farmers and ranchers, agribusiness entities, co-ops and commodity groups and other individuals.         

“Since 1987, the South Dakota Community Foundation has served as a vehicle for people to give back to causes they care about,” says Stephanie Judson, president of the South Dakota Community Foundation. “The South Dakota Agricultural Foundation endowment fund will allow ag producers, entities and individuals that have enjoyed success in agriculture an opportunity to create a long-term funding source that will benefit South Dakota’s ag industry now and long into the future.”

The South Dakota Community Foundation will provide administrative and investment services for the new endowment fund. The SDCF helps people reach their philanthropic goals and strengthens communities across the state by administering approximately $219 million in total assets for over 760 funds. For more information about the South Dakota Agricultural Foundation or to donate, visit AgFoundation.

Download the Press Release & Fact Sheet

Press Release PDF          Fact Sheet PDF

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Photos and Audio

Stephanie Judson
South Dakota Community Foundation


Nate Franzen
President of Agri-Business Division
First Dakota National Bank  

Bob Schmidt
Senior Vice President
Farm Credit Services of America in South Dakota


Bill Even
Commercial Unit Lead
DuPont Pioneer


Greg Von Wald
Executive Director
South Dakota Skilled Workforce Advocacy Council





Fact Sheet


The SD Agricultural Foundation is an independent, industry-led nonprofit composed of key leaders in the South Dakota ag industry. The Foundation is committed to cultivating a culture of philanthropy that serves all South Dakota ag organizations, and investing in the future of South Dakota agriculture through financial support, human resources, and capital.

This investment will come in the form of endowed funds and other dedicated investments from organizations and individuals who share a love of the land, and aren’t content to see it go.


Investing in the future of South Dakota 

HUMAN CAPITAL DEVELOPMENT: Supporting the creation of an educated and innovative agricultural workforce through education, leadership and technology training, and intervention opportunities.
INDUSTRY DIVERSIFICATION AND GROWTH: Supporting the industry through innovative projects that promote diversity, resiliency, and sustainability in the industry.
INDUSTRY PROMOTION AND SERVICE TO AGRICULTURE: Supporting innovative communications, development, and quality of life initiatives that serve South Dakota agriculture through positive, proactive, and engaging messaging.
WORKING LANDS CONSERVATION: Supporting continued stewardship of our working lands and natural resources by partnering with existing organizations and initiatives to maintain a healthy support system in rural South Dakota.

Board Members
Nate Franzen
Nathan Jensen
James Walti
Bernie Christenson
Greg Von Wald
Doug Berven
Jason Edleman

Advisory Council
Mike Jaspers
Christine Hamilton
Bob Sutton
Steve Carnes
Glen Davis
Jason Mischel
Jon Farris
Craig Schaunamann
Bill Even
Lucas Lentsch
Executive Director
Chris Maxwell