ECCF collaborates with Compeer Financial to support opportunities for outdoor education at Beaver Creek Reserve

ECCF is proud to announce its partnership with Compeer Financial in the Rural Collaboration Project, an initiative aimed at bolstering rural vitality across the Midwest, with a focus on environmental learning opportunities for students in rural communities of the Chippewa Valley.

In a significant step toward enhancing rural communities, ECCF has been selected as one of seven community foundations across the upper Midwest to participate in this pioneering initiative, receiving a grant of over $21,000 from the Compeer Financial Fund for Rural America donor-advised fund, the Agriculture and Rural Initiative.

These funds will be used to provide environmental learning and outdoor education opportunities to youth in the rural communities of the Chippewa Valley. Students from five different school districts, Alma, Birchwood, Bruce, Cameron, and Cornell, will be able to experience nature first-hand through outdoor-based field trips to Beaver Creek Reserve, an environmental education center located in Fall Creek, Wisconsin.

Erik Keisler, Executive Director of Beaver Creek Reserve, shared his excitement about this new collaborative project. “Our field trips offer complete outdoor learning experiences! Some of the lessons include playing in the stream to look for macroinvertebrates, identifying plants and animals along our trails, and so much more! We are incredibly excited to welcome five new districts from rural communities to Beaver Creek Reserve, because nature should be enjoyed by all no matter the season or location!”

Compeer Financial, a Farm Credit cooperative, is committed to leading the way in pursuing a collaborative approach to rural vitality. Their vision centers around active, strong rural societies capable of supporting thriving economies.

Karen Schieler, senior corporate giving specialist at Compeer Financial, emphasized, “At Compeer Financial, we are all about boosting rural growth through teamwork. Our Rural Collaboration Project unites forces within community and initiative foundations to fuel progress. From farming to community needs, entrepreneurship to education, we’re on board. Together, let’s make rural America thrive once again through important projects like this.”

In 2023, Compeer will work with seven community foundations across Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Those organizations include:

  • Community Foundation of Southern Wisconsin, Janesville, Wis.
  • DeKalb County Community Foundation, Sycamore, Ill.
  • Eau Claire Community Foundation, Eau Claire, Wis.
  • Fond du Lac Area Foundation, Fond du Lac, Wis.
  • The Foundation for Northwest Illinois, Freeport, Ill.
  • Galesburg Community Foundation, Galesburg, Ill.
  • The Initiative Foundation, Little Falls, Minn.

The program will open up to new applicants in 2024.

“With support from the Compeer Financial Rural Collaboration Project Fund held at the Eau Claire Community Foundation, Beaver Creek Reserve has already started scheduling field trips for students from Alma, Birchwood, Bruce, Cameron, and Cornell School Districts for the 2024 spring and fall seasons. They plan to continue to welcome these districts and their students back for more environmental learning opportunities in the years to come,” said ECCF President and CEO Wesley Escondo.

About the Agriculture and Rural Initiative
The Agriculture and Rural Initiative was created by Compeer Financial’s Board of Directors in 2019 to make signature investments in programs and projects that are high priorities to member-owners. To date, $10 million has been invested in the Initiative. To date, the Initiative has awarded $1.8 million to support communities during the pandemic and agriculture workforce development.

The Agriculture and Rural Initiative is managed by the Compeer Financial Fund for Rural America Board of Trustees, who oversee the organization’s corporate giving efforts. More information about Compeer’s corporate giving programs can be found at

About Compeer Financial
Compeer Financial is a member-owned Farm Credit cooperative serving and supporting agriculture and rural communities. The $30.5 billion organization provides loans, leases, risk management and other financial services throughout 144 counties in Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Based in the Upper Midwest, Compeer Financial exists to champion the hopes and dreams of rural America, while providing personalized service and expertise to clients and the agriculture industry.

Compeer Financial is the third largest cooperative of the Farm Credit System, a nationwide network of lending institutions supporting agriculture and rural communities with reliable, consistent credit and financial services. Learn more about Compeer Financial.