Soil Health Fund Grants Promote Innovation, Education

Foundation: Nebraska Community Foundation

credit: mcfblog

When Dan Gillespie was diagnosed with ALS in 2020, he told his sister, "I want to give $5,000 to a young farmer practicing good soil health."

That's exactly what the Dan Gillespie Soil Health Fund has done, with its first grant going to Battle Creek, Neb., high school student Akeyli Bush, who is studying the impact of land management techniques on soil aggregation and the soil microbiome, reports the Omaha World-Herald.

Gillespie, a no-till farmer and soil health advocate, started using no-till practices in 1986 and served as an NRCS no-till specialist from 2004 until his retirement in 2020.

When he was diagnosed with ALS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a terminal neurodegenerative disease, his family, friends, and soil health advocates started the fund in his honor.

"I thought it was such a generous gesture, especially given his prognosis with ALS," says his sister, Rebecca Evert.

"Then it occurred to me and other family members that we could support his intentions to 'pay forward' his soil health passion and experience."

So far, the fund has awarded $7,200 in grants, with new applications accepted in March and September.

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