Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts and leadership from the Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED) recently announced the three companies selected as the latest recipients of Nebraska's Developing Youth Talent Initiative grant — including two Nebraska agribusinesses.
DYTI grants support partnerships between the private sector and Nebraska public schools to inspire seventh- and eighth-grade students to explore careers in manufacturing, information technology and math- or science-related fields.
"Our Developing Youth Talent Initiative is introducing the next generation of students to career fields where great-paying opportunities continue to grow," Ricketts says. "The program helps connect kids with those opportunities, positioning Nebraska to retain more of the great people who have helped build the good life into the best place in the world to live, work and raise a family."
Ricketts established DYTI in 2015, and DED administers the program on behalf of the state. Since the program's inception, 12 DYTI grants have been competitively awarded to 11 companies. Successful applicants come to the table with strong plans of action to spark interest, engagement and career opportunity awareness among students in their regions.
This year's three grant recipients are:
Orthman Manufacturing of Lexington. Orthman, which accepted a $125,000 grant, plans to outfit mobile trailer "makerspaces" with manufacturing-related technologies and equipment. These makerspaces will travel throughout school districts in a 10-county area of central Nebraska to educate at least 3,300 students on industry-related concepts. As part of the project, local business professionals also will work with students on various projects intended to build mentoring relationships.
Vistabeam Inventive Wireless of Gering. Vistabeam accepted a $103,000 DYTI award to re-outfit Gering Junior High School's information technology lab with new software and equipment. The upgrades will provide a state-of-the art IT and science, technology, engineering and math learning environment for at least 450 students in the first year. Alongside guest speakers and field trips, Vistabeam will offer a weeklong summer externship for a schoolteacher, offering hands-on experiences that will translate to new ideas and inspiration in the classroom.
Reinke Manufacturing of Deshler. Reinke accepted an award of $22,000 this year. Embarking on a new project, the company intends to reach up to 850 students through its Exposing Kids to Career Opportunities program. The program will feature an engaging manufacturing and STEM career curriculum, along with a mobile STEM trailer to serve as a laboratory, and simulators to teach students about 3D printing, welding, software programming and more. The project will reach 10 schools in three southeast Nebraska counties by partnering with local public schools served by Educational Service Unit No. 5.
For Reinke, this is the second consecutive year receiving the state grant.
"We are very proud to once again receive the Developing Youth Talent Initiative grant," Reinke President Chris Roth says. “Reinke has for many years supported youth educational activities, and we are excited to have an opportunity to further enhance the education of students in our area. We'd like to thank Gov. Ricketts for his continued commitment to engage students in workplace learning and career exploration."