2015 Luverne FFA corn drive continues decades-old fundraiser for Camp Courage
For more than five decades, the Luverne FFA Chapter has conducted an annual corn drive, where student members request donations of corn from farmers.
On Tuesday, Oct. 20, students from the now Luverne-Adrian FFA Chapter hauled grain donations from fields to sell at local elevators.
“The FFA members brought in 1,687 bushels of corn and individuals donated $500 total,” said FFA adviser Dennis Moritz. “With the price of corn, I estimate that we raised a little over $6,000.
“This amount is close to the same amount that was raised in 2014,” he said.
The students’ annual fundraising effort is for Camp Courage in Maple Lake, located about 200 miles northeast of local cornfields.
Camp Courage opened in 1955 for students with physical disabilities. The first monetary donation from a FFA chapter’s corn drive occurred in 1964.
That year Freeborn FFA’ers were looking for a community service project. Students offered to pick up corn that fell to the ground after a damaging storm. They sold the corn and donated the $87 to the camp.
Since that first corn drive, more than 80 of the state’s FFA chapters have joined the “Corn Drive for Courage” and have donated more than $5.5 million to the camp, according to the website True Friends, which now operates Camp Courage.
Luverne FFA also conducted their first corn drive in the fall of 1964, according a notice of the upcoming event in the Nov. 5, 1964, Star Herald.
Photo depicts local chapter’s corn drive
Luverne was completing its annual corn drive effort in the fall of 1968.
A photograph archived with the Indiana and Purdue universities special collections and archives (IUPUI) shows six Luverne FFA’ers posing by a pickup for the chapter’s 1968 corn drive.
The picture commemorated the event in the National FFA Organization’s membership manual. IUPUI is the organization’s official archive.
“That picture really brings back a lot of memories,” said Luverne’s Gary Overgaard, who is one of the six FFA’ers pictured in the photo.
The other students are Harold Tilstra, Jerald Mann, Dave Sandbulte, Stan Tofteland and Steve Nath.
Overgaard, a junior in 1968, made the cardboard sign being held in the photo and was one of the officers who decided to take on the corn drive as a community service project.
While he doesn’t remember how much money was raised for Camp Courage, Overgaard does remember the amount of work it took to pick up the donations.
“It was just ear corn we threw in the back of the pickup,” he said. “There was hardly anyone who had a combine.”
Instead of one day, Overgaard said the corn drive of almost 50 years ago lasted over several days with at least a day devoted to the corn sheller that separated the grain from the cob.
Today Overgaard is one of several former FFA’ers who continue to support the local chapter’s community service efforts.
“It’s a good cause,” he said of Camp Courage. “And it supports kids looking for a future in agriculture.”