This month’s feel-good story involving the poultry industry arguably is the opening of Jennie-O Turkey Store Field in Swanville, Minnesota.
It was a long time coming, but as a fan of all bat and ball sports, this one makes me smile.
About 10 years ago, Jennie-O Turkey Store donated about 15 acres of land to the Swanville School District to use for recreational purposes. The land was adjacent to the school district’s original softball field, according to a report from the Morrison County Record.
However, not long after the school district received the donated land, budget problems occurred that prevented it from being able to develop that land. While a sign proclaimed the site as the future home of Jennie-O Turkey Store field, it appeared that the new softball field might not be much more than a pipedream.
But the local Swanville Swans Baseball Club reorganized as a nonprofit corporation and as such, was able to start raising funds to make the ball field a reality. The local Lions Club committed to a matching commitment of $50,000, and the Baseball Tomorrow Fund – the charity branch of Major League Baseball – approved a $50,000 grant request.
Construction commenced in 2018, but poor weather that fall and during the spring of 2019 delayed the progress. Then, the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 left the field mostly idle.
But the field was recently dedicated, with representatives from the Swanville Lions Club, the Swanville School District, and Jennie-O Turkey Store simultaneously throwing out the first pitches at the facility.
How can this not make you smile? A large employer in the area donates land to the better good of the community. Local residents pitch in both monetarily and with their time and talents for the greater good, and even a national organization that probably had never before heard of Swanville saw value in the project.
Thanks to all who were involved.