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  • Writer's pictureJamie Burdorf

After harvest abundance, a great time to give back


It has been a while since I last provided an update on our Shenandoah Iowa Education Foundation. I apologize for not writing more often.

To be honest, the last three months have been quite the whirlwind for me. I would like to take a moment and share a couple of those reasons. You will know my “why” later in this update, so please keep reading!

On Aug. 30, we lost my dad, Corby Fichter Jr. He was 90 years old and had lived an outstanding life. He taught me so much about honesty and integrity, work ethic, and most importantly always doing what is right to and for people. I don’t think I ever heard him say anything negative about anybody. One of the things all us siblings remember our dad saying is, “We love people as they are, not as we want them to be.” He was a quiet leader who made a difference in many, many lives over the years.

Corby Fichter Jr. showed us how to work hard, live well and share the bounty.

The second reason life has been so busy lately is for us farmers, this is harvest season. It is the favorite time of the year for most of us, when we are able to watch that grain flow into the combine and bins and reflect on the past growing season.

For many of us in southwest Iowa, Iowa in general and many areas of the Midwest, this past growing season has been the absolute best ever in terms of yield and price. I won’t get into actual numbers of what our corn and beans yielded as that might be called bragging. Let’s just go with “best ever.”

But for us, two full months of harvest can get a little long, and being done always feels great. Now if I could just find the time to wash that equipment!

So why do I talk about harvest and my dad?

Let’s talk about harvest first. Earlier this year, actually during planting season, I had the opportunity to talk on KMA radio about how planting the right seed is so important in raising a great crop. For our education foundation, it is no different. We plant seeds all the time as we build relationships with people who call Shenandoah home, or did earlier in their lives.

We desire to build relationships and help people see the need our Shenandoah schools have for contributors donating their time, talent, and funds. Everyone on our foundation board of directors has a passion around doing just that. If it wasn’t for them reaching out to you, we would not be able to meet our mission of raising funds to support our school. I personally want to thank each of them for helping our board plant seeds with all of you.

Then where do you all fit in?

Well, you are all part of the harvest.

We sincerely and humbly hope that through the relationships you have with us and our school, that you will participate in the harvest and give of your resources to help our school, our students, and our teachers. Your gifts allow our students to participate in and learn things that, otherwise, they wouldn’t have the opportunity.

Our foundation president Corby Fichter III had a first-time harvest visit from his granddaughter Caroline Fichter during the 2021 harvest, reminding him how we’re all called to help coming generations.

Our foundation has made great strides in raising funds over the past few years and building an endowment that will be used for a very long time.

We need to continue to find more people to increase our harvest. My ask is would you consider helping us make 2021 the best harvest year ever for our foundation and ultimately for the students and teachers of the Shenandoah Community Schools.

We really appreciate all your support.

Now, let’s get back to my dad. Why did I tell you about him?

Years ago, my dad and mom received the “Farm Family of the Year” award from the Shenandoah Chamber & Industry Association. As I commented earlier in this update, my dad was a man of few words. But the few words he said that evening, as he humbly accepted the award, were so right and true: “We have always believed it is right to give back to the community in which you live and grew up.”

For those of you that who still call Shenandoah home – or once did – would you consider giving to our foundation before 2021 ends, to help give back to our school and community?

Donations of any amount are important. But especially critical right now is finding families who will match the “Family Challenge” we’ve received, requiring us to find 25 families per calendar year to make a pledge to pay $10,000 over the next decade. At this writing, we’ve had 25 families do so in 2020 and seven more in 2021. But we need to find 18 more families to make that pledge by New Year’s Eve.

We would love to have you join us. We need you. And thanks for reading!

Corby Fichter, the author of this column, has served as the president of the Shenandoah Iowa Education Foundation from its start in 2016. You can write to him directly by email at, or reach him by phone at (712) 621-2386.

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