GARDNER – Farmers are known for their hard work and long hours in the fields feeding a nation. But in Grundy County they also are known for their big hearts and generous giving.
The annual Grundy County Friends of Extension and Grundy County Farm Bureau Foundation Drawdown held Saturday was filled with area supporters showing how much they care about their community.
The two organizations used to hold separate fundraisers annually, but this is their fifth year of holding one together.
“A few years ago we decided to pool our resources together,” Grundy County Farm Bureau Manager Tasha Bunting said. “It gave us an opportunity to join forces to help benefit two organizations.”
The funds raised are split equally between the two organizations, which support agriculture education to area youth.
Bunting said Monday they raised about $28,000 through the fundraiser, it’s the most raised during the joint fundraiser to date.
Grundy County Farm Bureau Foundation finances Ag in the Classroom to every fourth-grade student in Grundy County, which is held once a month the entire school year.
“It’s important students really understand where food comes from,” Bunting said. “Food, fuel and fiber comes from the farms in Grundy County that surround them.”
Friends of Extension leader Randy Seggebruch said teaming with the Farm Bureau Foundation allows them to offer a better time with less work for the organizers, while still benefitting the program.
Friends of Extension was originally formed to help keep a University of Illinois Extension educator position in Grundy County. The next year, the group’s mission became to keep the office in Grundy when it was fighting budget cuts.
While the University of Illinois Extension offices have since combined, placing Grundy, Kankakee and Will counties in common office in Will County, the doors to the Grundy County office, located inside the Grundy County Farm Bureau building, have remained open with the help of Friends of Extension.
“Proceeds from the event help purchase supplies for the local office, and fills in if their is a shortfall to pay for something,” Seggebruch said. “It also helps fund the 4H Shooting Sports Program.”
According to the University of Illinois Extension website, the Illinois Shooting Sports program utilizes the resources of the University of Illinois Extension’s 4-H program offering shooting disciplines of archery, rifle (air and small-bore), and shotgun.
In addition to the draw down, where participants donate $50 for dinner and a chance to win $1,500, the night is filled with other activities including silent and live auctions, and an adult pedal tractor pull inside the Gardner American Legion.
No farm-related auction would be complete without a hog, some chickens and various John Deere related items.
Surprisingly though, the live auction for dinner for four with Morris Mayor Richard Kopczick and his wife at Chapin’s restaurant in Morris saw a bidding war that ended at $1,250.
“I’m not sure I’m worth that much money, but both organizations are,” Kopczick said. “I thank them very much for the donation.”
Jeff Neisler, with Elburn Coop, battled it out with Tom Tesdal, president of First Midwest Bank, for the dinner. Both waited until the auctioneer was ready to call it sold before upping the bid.
“We’re just doing part as good stewards,” said Neisler, who won the dinner.
Competition wasn’t just fierce in the auction.
While the auction was taking place at one end of the room, others were competing on adult pedal tractors. Participants paid for an opportunity to pedal a tractor while pulling weights over 500 pounds down the width of the room to win a trophy showing off their strength.