LINCOLN – Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts announced 21st Century Equipment and MetalQuest as the recipients of the Developing Youth Talent Initiative (DYTI) grants for 2022. Launched by the Governor in 2015, DYTI introduces middle school students to careers in industries such as manufacturing, information technology, engineering, and healthcare. DYTI is administered by the Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED).

21st Century Equipment founder and CEO Owen Palm speaks in Nebraska Aug. 16 after his dealership earned a $125,000 DYTI grant to develop a mobile learning lab teaching precision ag that will serve 19 schools.

“The Developing Youth Talent Initiative encourages partnership between private sector companies and schools to expose middle schoolers to the rewarding careers we have right here in Nebraska,” said Gov. Ricketts. “It’s part of the talent pipeline we’ve built to connect our youth with great-paying jobs in our state. We’ve seen strong results from DYTI. Since starting in 2015, it has successfully sparked students’ interest in high-demand fields like IT and manufacturing.”

DYTI provides competitive grants of up to $250,000 to for-profit employers who partner with area schools to design innovative learning experiences that inspire seventh and eighth graders to explore careers in manufacturing, information technology, health care, and other high-growth industries.

“We are experiencing a critical need for talented professionals who possess the skills in information technology, math, and science to propel our industries forward and address labor shortages,” said Nebraska Department of Economic Development Director Anthony L. Goins. “The Developing Youth Talent Initiative is a program that has immense importance for the mission to grow our state and create opportunities for our young people.”

Since its inception, DYTI grants have reached 24,500 students across 66 Nebraska school districts. The two companies receiving today’s awards—MetalQuest and 21st Century Equipment—are set to impact at least 3,500 more students at 29 schools across 15 counties.

With an award of $125,000, MetalQuest is purchasing equipment such as a construction system to introduce students to industrial robotics automation and coding. They’re also partnering with schools in Gage, Jefferson, and Thayer counties to create a classroom curriculum with the grant award. As part of the DYTI partnership, MetalQuest teammates—who are knowledgeable in using manufacturing equipment—will provide classroom instruction alongside teachers.

21st Century Equipment is using its grant of $125,000 to purchase, construct, and assemble a mobile learning lab. The lab will serve students at 19 schools throughout the Nebraska Panhandle. The focus of the lab is to familiarize students with the technology used in precision agriculture, such as the navigational software used to program automated routes for ag equipment like tractors.
To learn more about the DYTI program, visit

FWEDA member 21st Century Equipment, based in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, has dealership locations in Nebraska, Colorado and Wyoming.

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