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MTI Exceeds Fundraising Goal

By Kella Rodiek for the Mitchell Daily Republic, December 3, 2014

Mitchell Technical Institute has reached 135 percent of its first-ever capital campaign fundraising goal, officials announced Tuesday

The announcement came during the MTI Foundation Donor Recognition Event at the Campus Center. Although the event is held annually, a few special circumstances made this year’s more significant, according to Mark Gerhardt, vice-president for industry relations at MTI.

Gerhardt said that this month marks the completion of the fundraising campaign, which is set to officially end on Dec. 31. The 37-month campaign, which began on Dec. 1, 2011, set a goal to raise $4 million, according to Gerhardt. It has raised $5.4 million so far, with nearly a month left of the campaign.

“Needless to say that’s pretty pleasing,” said Gerhardt.

The campaign, titled “Educating People, Empowering Communities,” or EPEC, was formed to support four specific initiatives of the school, including MTI program support, scholarship funds, the formation of leadership academy and working toward campus completion.

The majority of the money has been delegated toward the initiatives of program support and scholarships, according to Gerhardt.

Four awards, which are conferred annually at the recognition event, were given to donors to recognize them for their contributions.

Following the presentation of awards, MTI president Greg Von Wald announced the unveiling of a donor recognition wall in the Campus Center, which honors all past and present donors of the EPEC campaign as well as endowment and employee donors that have helped the MTI Foundation achieve its funding goals.

Earl Nordby, of Huron, received the Individual Donor of the Year award for his generous monetary contribution to the MTI Foundation.

On Oct. 23, it was announced that Earl Nordby and family would gift $1 million to MTI — the largest single cash gift ever made to a technical institute in South Dakota, according to Von Wald.

“Earl and his family’s gift will allow us to do a great many things in the coming years,” Von Wald said.

He said $250,000 of the gift will go toward signs to be placed along Interstate 90, $500,000 will be used for a staff endowment and $250,000 is designated to a permanent endowment that will provide nearly full-tuition scholarships to four students each year, Von Wald said.

Nordby is a lifelong Huron resident and South Dakota Hall of Fame inductee, who, through the ownership of Pepsi-Cola bottling of Huron, has served the Mitchell, Chamberlain, Pierre and surrounding areas.

“(He) has touched many lives through his giving in the areas of community development, education and recreation in the communities of his beloved state,” Von Wald said.

Since the announcement of Nordby’s contribution, MTI has renamed a campus building the Nordby Trades Center in the honor of Earl and his family. Nordby and his daughter, Diane Des Lauriers, both accepted the award.

Volunteerism and Service Award

The Volunteerism and Service Award honors individuals for their time and talent given to the MTI Foundation, according to Von Wald. This year’s award went to two individuals: Tom Simmons and Mark Shlanta.

Simmons is the senior vice-president of public policy for Midcontinent Communications.

“His insight and direction is extremely valuable to MTI as he serves as an active and valued member of our Strategic Advisory Council,” Von Wald said.

Simmons last month joined a statewide leadership group that exists to develop and promote technical institute policies at a statewide level, and is composed of members of all the strategic advisory councils at the four technical institutes in South Dakota.

Together with Shlanta, Simmons helped to raise $591,076 cash, as well as $223,365 in in-kind contributions.

Shlanta, CEO of SDN Communications, worked with MTI to come up with more than $1 million in federal grant funding that equipped the school’s telecommunications training lab as one of the finest facilities for telecom training to be found, according to Von Wald.

He said both men led their companies in efforts to provide valuable equipment, training and advertising for MTI.

Donor Legacy Award

The Donor Legacy Award went to Otter Tail Power Company for its support of the MTI foundation for the past decade.

The company’s scholarship and campaign contributions have totaled nearly $110,000, and it has helped develop and support multiple programs for the school such as the electrical utilities and substation technology program and automation controls/SCADA program.

“Otter Tail’s track record in giving has brought enormous benefit to many MTI graduates over the past 10 years,” Von Wald said.

Tim Rogelstad, president of Otter Tail Power Company, accepted the award.

Corporate Donor of the Year

Corporate Donor of the Year honors a company that has made a single or multi-year commitment to an MTI Foundation initiative, program or scholarship. This year’s award was given to Butler Machinery Company and AGCO Systems.

“Butler and AGCO have been huge supporters this past year, helping us start the ButlerEdge program,” Von Wald said.

ButlerEdge is a two-year training program for students in the farm power industry where students receive a unique blend of classroom instruction and on-the-job training, and are then eligible to begin immediate employment prior to graduation with a Butler dealership in South Dakota, North Dakota or Nebraska, Von Wald said.

AGCO also made significant donations of large-scale farm equipment to MTI.

“There is nothing more impressive than the look on a prospective student’s or parent’s face when they walk into our facility and see the size and scope of our equipment, knowing they’re going to be working on it,” Von Wald said.

Representatives accepting the award for Butler were Tiffany Holm, who is the training and development manager, and Ben Wipf, service manager at Butler Machinery in Huron. John Buschena, head of engineering for the TerraGator and RoGator equipment, represented AGCO.


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