Governor Ricketts Announces 2022 Young Talent Development Initiative Grant Winners

Media contacts:

Justin Pinkerman, Office of the Governor, 402-471-1967

Kate Ellingson, Department of Economic Development, 402-309-3310

Press release :

Governor Ricketts Announces 2022 Young Talent Development Initiative Grant Winners

From left to right: Sign language interpreter Sharon Sinkler, DED Director Tony Goins, MetalQuest VP/COO Scott Volk,

Governor Ricketts (podium) and 21st Century Equipment Founder and CEO Owen Palm.

Video of today’s press conference is available at click here.

LINCOLN– Today Governor Pete Ricketts announced MetalQuest and 21st Century Equipment as the 2022 Youth Talent Development Initiative (DYTI) Grant Recipient. Launched by the Governor in 2015, DYTI introduces college students to careers in industries such as manufacturing, information, engineering and health care. DYTI is administered by the Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED).

“The Youth Talent Development Initiative encourages partnership between private sector companies and schools to expose college students to the rewarding careers we have right here in Nebraska,” Governor Ricketts said. “It’s part of the talent pool we’ve built to connect our youth to well-paying jobs in our state. We’ve seen good results from DYTI. Since its launch in 2015, it’s been successful in attracting student interest for high-demand areas like IT and manufacturing.”

DYTI is offering 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, healthcare and other high-growth industries.

“We have a critical need for talented professionals who have the information technology, math and science skills to propel our industries forward and address labor shortages,” said Anthony L Goins, director of the Nebraska Department of Economic Development. “The Young Talent Development Initiative is a program that has immense significance to the mission of developing our state and creating opportunities for our young people.”

Since its inception, DYTI grants have reached 24,500 students in 66 Nebraska school districts. The two companies honored today—MetalQuest and 21st Century Equipment – expected to reach at least 3,500 additional students in 29 schools in 15 counties.

With a prize of $125,000, MetalQuest purchases equipment such as a building system to introduce students to industrial robotics automation and coding. They are also partnering with schools in Gage, Jefferson and Thayer counties to create a classroom program with the grant award. As part of the DYTI partnership, MetalQuest teammates familiar with the use of manufacturing equipment will deliver classroom lessons alongside teachers.

21st Century Equipment is using its $125,000 grant to purchase, build and assemble a mobile learning lab. The lab will serve students from 19 schools in the Nebraska Panhandle. The goal of the lab is to familiarize students with the technology used in precision farming, such as the navigation software used to program automated routes for agricultural equipment like tractors.

To learn more about the DYTI program, visit

The full video of today’s press conference is available via click here.

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