Tomorrow's Leaders in Agriculture
The American FFA Degree, National Collegiate Agricultural Ambassador and FFA Blue Jacket programs are just a few examples of initiatives that get to the core of FFA’s goal of building strong communities through strong leadership, says Glenn Sims, senior regional director of corporate giving for the National FFA Organization.
With support from companies like Syngenta, these programs help develop leaders who will not only have a lasting impact on their communities, but who will also proactively advocate for agriculture, he says.
Syngenta is a sponsor of the American FFA Degree program, which was established in 1928. During 2015, 3,424 members received the American FFA Degree, the highest honor an FFA member can achieve. The degree recognizes exceptional commitment to FFA and acknowledges significant accomplishments in a supervised environment that involves classroom instruction, work experience, leadership and community service. This experience prepares FFA members for college, while also helping them explore career opportunities.
Syngenta also was one of the two founding companies to support the launch of the National Collegiate Agricultural Ambassadors program. Established in 2007, the program aims to increase the public’s understanding of agriculture and promote awareness of the innovations and technologies that are essential to producing a safe, reliable food supply. Through the financial support this program receives, FFA members get the opportunity to travel to numerous service clubs, university groups and other organizations to promote agricultural literacy, advocate for agriculture and promote careers in agriculture.
“Many FFA members will become agribusiness leaders, potential customers and possibly Syngenta employees,” says Warren Boerger, head of Syngenta business services. An FFA member in his youth, Boerger currently serves on the National FFA Sponsors Board.
Syngenta also supports FFA at the local level. For example, the company has previously invited members to practice their public speaking and debate skills at its offices in Research Triangle Park and Greensboro, North Carolina, as well as in Minnetonka, Minnesota, says Shelley Olds, community engagement lead for Syngenta. The company also works with local FFA groups on its community garden program and United Way drives, she adds.
In partnership with ag retailers, Syngenta has taken a leadership role in the FFA Blue Jacket program, which contributes a jacket to an FFA member in need and $750 annually to a local chapter that the participating retailer designates. Syngenta matches every $2,500 a retailer pledges to the FFA.
Support at the local and national levels helps further the mission of FFA to develop tomorrow’s leaders. The skills, confidence and pride gained through FFA programs can help those future leaders make a positive difference in agriculture and their communities.