Prairie Innovation Centre receives $500K from prominent ag presence, Ron Helwer, late wife Vera

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Photo: ACC

Assiniboine Community College’s campaign to build a leading-edge agricultural training centre, the Prairie Innovation Centre for Sustainable Agriculture, has received a $500,000 contribution from Ron Helwer and Shur-Gro Farm Services, a long-time presence in Westman agriculture.

“Ron is an agricultural institution in his own right, so it’s a thrill to welcome his support for what we know will be the future of agricultural education in our province,” said Derrick Turner, Director, Advancement & External Relations at Assiniboine.

He’s a business leader and an influential voice within the agriculture community, and we know that his partnership, outside of any dollar figure, is invaluable.

His legacy in Westman began in 1968 when he and his late wife, Vera, moved to Brandon following several successful business ventures in Eastern Manitoba, and started Shur-Gro Farm Services. As the current president of Shur-Gro Farm Services, Ron is still actively involved in the industry.

Ron and Vera raised three kids in the Westman area, while he built his business and she kept things running on the home-front. Now, his generous contribution to the Prairie Innovation Centre, on behalf of himself and Vera, is giving back to agriculture in the area.

“I think it’s a great expansion, and it makes sense for the Westman area. Increasing local graduates in agriculture programs, that’s great for everyone, not just our business,” said Helwer, who is an honorary co-chair of the Prairie Innovation Centre campaign cabinet.

“To us, Assiniboine is really important and we are really pleased and proud to be involved. When I look at where our people get educated, Assiniboine plays a huge role. We are very supportive of the college. People is what makes the business.”

Being a leader in the agriculture industry for more than 50 years, Ron recognizes the need to adapt with sector.

“Things change so fast and now we have changes in technology, so that’s going to be a big thing going forward,” he said.

If we want to stay successful, we have to adapt to change.

And the Prairie Innovation Centre aims to help facilitate these changes and adaptations.

“The Centre aims to expand training capacity to better meet labour market demands, and it will also be a hub for agricultural education, innovation and applied research,” said Tim Hore, Dean, School of Agriculture & Environment.

This will give us the ability to collaborate and work with industry to transfer that knowledge to the ag sector.

Ron is a long-time supporter of the college. He has participated on program advisory boards and was an honorary diploma recipient in 2018. Shur-Gro has long been supportive of Assiniboine’s ag programming, and hires many Assiniboine alumni.

(ACC News Release)