LINCOLN — Orthman Manufacturing in Lexington is among three companies selected as the latest recipients of Nebraska’s Developing Youth Talent Initiative grants.

The $125,000 DYTI grant awarded to Orthman will be used to inspire seventh- and eighth-grade students to explore careers in manufacturing, information technology, and math- or science-related fields.

Orthman plans to use its $125,000 to outfit mobile trailer “makerspaces” with manufacturing-related technologies and equipment. These makerspaces will travel throughout school districts in a 10-county area of central Nebraska to educate at least 3,300 students on industry-related concepts.

As part of the project, regional business professionals will work with students on various projects intended to build mentoring relationships.

“Our Developing Youth Talent Initiative is introducing the next generation of students to career fields where great-paying opportunities continue to grow,” said Gov. Pete Ricketts, who joined last week with the Nebraska Department of Economic Development to announce the DYTI grant recipients.

“The program helps connect kids with those opportunities, positioning Nebraska to retain more of the great people who have helped build the Good Life into the best place in the world to live, work and raise a family,” Ricketts said.

This year’s other grant recipients are:

- Vistabeam Inventive Wireless: The Gering company accepted a $103,000 DYTI award to re-outfit Gering Junior High School’s IT lab with new software and equipment. The upgrades will provide a state-of-the art IT and STEM learning environment for at least 450 students in the first year.

- Reinke Manufacturing: The Deshler-based company accepted an award of $22,000. The company intends to reach up to 850 students through its Exposing Kids to Career Opportunities (EKCO) program. The program will feature an engaging manufacturing and STEM career curriculum, along with a mobile STEM trailer to serve as a laboratory. The project will reach 10 schools in three southeast Nebraska counties.

The governor established DYTI in 2015. DED administers the program, which has awarded 12 DYTI grants to 11 different companies.

To date, DED estimates that DYTI grants already have introduced 7,000 Nebraska students to the manufacturing, IT, and STEM fields across more than two dozen school districts. This week’s grant recipients will add up to 4,600 students and another two dozen districts to that tally.

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