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Donations from Lake Park farm family

This past Thursday, two local nonprofit organizations each received a $2,500 boost, thanks to a pair of grants won by Lake Park farmers Matt and Skye Bjerke.

The Bjerkes signed up for an opportunity to win a $2,500 donation to their favorite community nonprofit, as part of the Monsanto Fund’s America’s Farmers Grow Communities program.

As Skye Bjerke said during Thursday’s check presentation ceremony, they chose the Lake Park Legacy Fund because it directly benefits the Lake Park-Audubon school district, where two of their five young children currently attend school.

Legacy Fund representative Monique Anderson thanked the Bjerkes and the Monsanto Fund for the donation, noting that it would help fund grants for programming, building improvements and supplies that the district would not otherwise be able to afford.

Anderson said the Legacy Fund has “sub-funds” for academics, athletics, technology, building and grounds, and a general fund that covers requests which don’t quite fit in the other areas, or can be used to help supplement one of the other sub-funds.

“We just received our first official grant request, from the theater department (at Lake Park-Audubon),” Anderson said, referring to the fact that the Legacy Fund is less than a year old.

Because Becker County was among those counties declared as natural disaster areas by the U.S. Department of Agriculture following the 2012 drought, the Bjerkes were also given the opportunity to gift a second $2,500 grant to another local nonprofit.

“I’m glad we had the opportunity to award two grants,” said Skye Bjerke, noting that they chose the Lakes Crisis and Resource Center as the recipient of the second grant because of all the work they do on behalf of children and families in Becker County and the surrounding area.

 LCRC executive director Jan Logan also said thanks for the grant, noting that “it can be used in a broad range of areas.”

“The Lakes Crisis and Resource Center sees thousands of people every year who are in need of the basic necessities,” she said, adding that she can also see the funds being used for crime victim advocacy services, children in need of warm clothing, and a variety of needs at their emergency family shelter, Mary’s Place, “that we couldn’t afford otherwise.”

Monsanto Fund representative Preston Dagen, a district sales manager for REA Hybrids in Lake Park, told those present at Thursday’s ceremony that winning a grant one year does not preclude the Bjerkes from applying again, or winning again, in future years.

“There’s no reason you can’t apply again,” he told the Bjerkes.

But competition for the grants is fierce, Dagen added.

“We had over 60,000 farmers sign up this year,” he said, noting that the America’s Farmers Grow Communities program covers 1,271 eligible counties within 39 states.

“By the end of this year we will have given $10 million back to farmers and rural communities through this program,” Dagen said.

The AFGC program is open to farmers in any of the eligible 1,271 counties; the only requirements are that they be active farmers, submit an application through the website,, and select a nonprofit as the beneficiary.

Follow Detroit Lakes Newspapers reporter Vicki Gerdes on Twitter at @VickiLGerdes.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454