Two local schools received a technology boost thanks to five-figure donations from Sargent Irrigation in Neligh, Nebraska. The well-drilling company headquartered in Broken Bow donated $10,000 to both Neligh-Oakdale and Clearwater-Orchard Public Schools recently to assist in their technology advances. The donations were spearheaded by Brian Whitesel and Amy Thiele, who are the third generation of the family-owned business. Whitesel is a sales consultant, and Thiele serves as the administrative assistant at the Neligh office. “Technology is an ever-growing part of education, and we wanted to help our schools keep up with their changing needs,” Thiele said. “It was important to us to support our schools and education. By making this donation, we feel like we are saying, ‘Thank you for doing a great job. Here's a little something to show our appreciation for our education we received and for the great job you are doing with our own kids and all the kids in school now.’ ” Thiele graduated from Neligh-Oakdale in 1994, and Whitesel graduated in 1996. Thiele said Sargent Irrigation has had a prosperous last few years, and the local office wanted to give back to the schools that are educating youth, including the fourth generation at Sargent Irrigation. Amy and Curt Thiele have four children attending Clearwater-Orchard while Brian and Erin Whitesel have two children at Neligh-Oakdale. Whitesel said the technology purchased was at the discretion of the districts, but the administrators were instructed to use the funds for technology above and beyond what they had budgeted. “We wanted this donation to even the playing field for students and give those who may not have technology at home the opportunity to have it at school,” he said. “We wanted to make a donation that would help as many students as possible in the best way possible, and that’s through technology.” Clearwater-Orchard purchased Chromebooks for the junior high and iPads for the elementary. Neligh-Oakdale has not determined how the funds will be used yet, but school officials have said they are looking at a variety of devices, including laptops and iPads. Both Whitesel and Thiele said they are hoping their donation leads to other businesses and individuals in the communities to consider helping the schools continue making strides in technology.
“It was important to us to support our schools and education. By making this donation, we feel like we are saying, ‘Thank you for doing a great job. Here's a little something to show our appreciation for our education we received and for the great job you are doing with our own kids and all the kids in school now.’ ” Amy Thiele, Sargent Irrigation
“We encourage other people and businesses to donate to their respective schools as well. The schools hold our future, and it's important to do what we can to help,” Thiele said. Sargent Irrigation has eight branches in Nebraska and Iowa, along with Sargent Drilling and Sargent Pipe Co. The company was founded in 1937, and Larry Whitesel purchased the company in 1953. His son, Mike Whitesel, serves as president for the company, which manufactures its own turbine pump. Sargent Irrigation offers complete water-well drilling service, pump installation and service and municipal water-well drilling. The Neligh office employs 25 full-time employees. Sargent Irrigation, Neligh-Oakdale Public School, Clearwater-Orchard Public School