MALTA – Roger Nelson had a rare opportunity: He had the ability to give $2,500 to any two local organizations that he felt were worthy of the money.
The local farmer then selected the Malta Township Public Library and the Malta Fire Department.
"There can't be two finer organizations," Nelson said. "You try to think what charitable organizations or worthy organizations are part of the community. And we have a nice library here ... their job is to serve the youth of the town ... you have to support the library."
Nelson said the support for the fire department is necessary because it is an all-volunteer department.
"You got to have them," Nelson said. "And they have to have all of the equipment they can to serve the community."
The two organizations received money as a part of Monsanto Fund's America's Farmers Grow Communities program. The program awards $2,500 to local nonprofit organizations that farmers like Nelson select.
Usually, winners can only pick one organization. But the program doubles the award amount for counties that have been declared disaster areas because of drought by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which is why Nelson had two choices.
Together with his brother Jim, Nelson raises corn, soybeans and hogs on a farm located southwest of Malta. Nelson said he first heard about the program by mail from Monsanto. He said the online nomination process as being fairly easy.
Malta Fire Chief Jeff Byerhof said most of the money be used on a four-gas monitor, which reads the levels of oxygen, carbon monoxide, and other gases in a given area. He said the rest will be spent on updating equipment.
Peggy Wogen, director of the Malta library, said she was very excited to hear about the donation. She said the money will be spent on shelving for the library's magazines and "read-alongs" – books with headphones that children wear when reading. The voice narrates the story, and the child reads along.
"We just have whatever we can out here," Wogen said, motioning to different magazine racks located throughout the library.
According to a news release from Monsanto Fund, the Grow Communities program will award $5 million that is available to farmers in 1,271 counties in 39 states this year.