The Gladbrook-Reinbeck FFA is one of six chapters statewide to be awarded a $1,500 "Planting A Seed" grant by the Iowa Food & Family Project (Iowa FFP).
The program, sponsored by Pioneer Hi-Bred, a DuPont business, in cooperation with the Iowa FFA Foundation, provides FFA chapters resources to conduct activities that increase agricultural awareness in their communities and interest among youth in food production and life sciences.
Other grant recipients are: Audubon FFA, Audubon; Clay-Central/Everly FFA, Everly; Des Moines FFA (Central Campus), Des Moines Public Schools; Iowa Mennonite FFA, Kalona; and New Hampton FFA, New Hampton.
The chapters will utilize grant funding to conduct programs this spring that stimulate interest among K-12 students in agricultural careers and emphasize the role science and technology play in providing wholesome food using less land and fewer inputs.
Grant recipients will be recognized April 23 at the Iowa FFA State Leadership Conference in Ames. One chapter determined to have conducted the most innovative and successful activity will be presented a $1,500 Award of Excellence to be used for general chapter activities.
The Gladbrook-Reinbeck FFA will utilize their grant to involve students in planting, cultivating and harvesting a garden. Produce from the garden will be sold at the chapter's "general store" and local farmers' markets. The activities will promote agriculture through the fields of horticulture production and sales, plant selection, biology and genetics. Students will also learn more about the economics of agriculture and new production strategies.
"We're very appreciative of the opportunity to enhance agricultural awareness and promote the many careers that exist in food production and life sciences," says Jeff Mayes, Gladbrook-Reinbeck High School FFA advisor. "Partnerships like this enrich the educational experiences of students and that benefits our school and communities."
Connecting youth to farming and food production is central to the mission of the grant program and important to answering the needs of a growing world population, says Pioneer Business Director Todd Frazier. "To meet the needs of a growing population, Iowa's farmers must continue to increase productivity while using less land, water and energy," he says. "The challenge presents tremendous opportunities for Iowa's agricultural community and one that will be successfully met by nurturing the next generation of agronomists, researchers and scientists."
Aaron Putze, director of external relations for the Iowa Soybean Association and Iowa FFP coordinator, says grant program judges were impressed with the breadth and quality of activities submitted for consideration. "The selection process was robust," he says. "We now look forward to working collectively with grant recipients to implement successful programs that increase agricultural awareness and interest in ag-related career opportunities."