An agriculture education center aimed at school groups, families and as a tourist destination is nearing the capital campaign goal. Farm equipment dealer, Riesterer & Schnell Inc., has contributed $250,000 to the project, which is planned to be built near Manitowoc, Wis.
"We could break ground late this year or early next," says Melissa Bender, executive director of the planned $11.6 million Wisconsin Agriculture Education Center. "But it depends heavily on the capital campaign."
More than 70% of the funds needed for the development are in hand and the public phase of fundraising has yet to begin, Bender points out. The State of Wisconsin and agriculture industries have been major supporters to date. The Non-State Agency Grant of a matching $5 million has been supplemented by several groups, including Riesterer & Schnell as well as John C. and Kate Miller, former owners of Miller-St. Nazianz.
In addition to a 21,000-square-foot Discovery Center, there will be a 200-person conference center, an outdoor playground and a cafe and country store featuring Wisconsin products.
The center will be an interactive, state-of-the-art facility to "provide visitors with the opportunity to connect to the industry by better understanding where their food comes from and why agriculture is so important to them."
Melissa Bender is executive director of the planned $11.6 million Wisconsin Agriculture Education Center.
The center will include a Discovery Center that features hands-on learning opportunities through many displays, and an opportunity to tour (nearby) Grotegut Dairy Farm, which focuses on sustainability and best farming practices while still milking 2,400 cows three times a day. A highlight for visitors will be the chance to view the live birth of calves in the center's birthing barn. In addition to the 21,000-square-foot Discovery Center, there will be a 200-person conference center, an outdoor playground and a cafe and country store featuring Wisconsin products. Tickets, food and product sales will support the center financially, she says.
Waldo Riesterer shared, “We are excited to be a believer and supporter of WAEC. We are thankful for the support of our loyal customers and our dedicated R&S team members. Without them, this donation would not be possible. The education of agriculture and how it is changing with the use of technology is important for people of all ages. The center will help educate current and future generations on how farmers are feeding the world. Supporting WAEC allows us to be part of shaping the future by the education of all.”
“We could not think of a better way to honor our past and show our appreciation to our employees and customers than with this donation, as we celebrate an important milestone in Riesterer & Schnell’s history and look forward to the future,” said Frank Riesterer. “Thank you to everyone who joins us in supporting this important project.”
“Riesterer & Schnell connects with its customers to ensure they are delivering the innovative and advanced solutions to support a changing agricultural industry,” states Nic Schoenberger, WAEC Board Vice-President, “With their commitment to the center, we will be able to continue to tell the agricultural story of how agriculture is a progressive industry.”