Farm Credit supports young people at every stage of their agriculture education. From purchasing students’ 4-H or FFA livestock at the county fair, to supporting local school gardens, to providing scholarships to young adults throughout their collegiate studies, Farm Credit is committed to the next generation of agriculture leaders.
Take Capital Farm Credit (Capital) as an example. Starting in 2016 and continuing today, Capital committed to awarding 100 scholarships in 100 days to Texas students pursuing an agriculture-related degree at a college or university. To date, Capital has exceeded that promise, awarding more than 100 scholarships each year, with annual scholarship totals reaching as high as $130,000. Each Capital branch office provides at least one $1,000 scholarship to a student in its area.
Many students receive their first formal agriculture education through 4-H and FFA. Farm Credit has been a constant source of financial and in-kind support for these premier youth leadership development organizations on a local, state and national level. For example, Capital’s Community Outreach Grants help student members of Texas 4-H and FFA chapters implement projects that improve their local communities. In its first year this year, Capital awarded more than $25,000 to 26 student-led community projects.
“At Capital Farm Credit, we believe that with these grants we can help support communities by empowering young people to bring about positive change,” said Ben R. Novosad, chief executive officer at Capital Farm Credit. “We’re proud to help these 4-H and FFA chapters make a difference in their hometowns.”
One such grant was awarded to the Menard Morning Glories Junior Master Gardener group, facilitated through the Menard County, Texas, 4-H chapter.
As members of the Menard Morning Glories, students learn to care for their own garden plot. They choose what plants to cultivate, sell at the local farmers’ market and take home the fresh produce they grow. In addition to learning how to garden, students participate in monthly lessons that cover topics such as plant growth, ecology, watersheds and insect identification.
Approximately 10 percent of the school-aged youth in this rural town participate in the Morning Glories, and interest continues to grow. Capital recognized the program’s growing demand and awarded it a community outreach award. The students, along with the help of their adult leaders, built 18 new raised beds, making the program accessible to more of their peers. Mary Kniffen, a retired teacher who currently advises the students, said, “By having more garden beds, we’re able to make more of a long-term influence on the community and the children.”
The Menard Morning Glories club brings together youth from diverse socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds. At the garden, everyone works together and friendships blossom. Mary said, “For some [of the youth gardeners] there may not be healthy food available at home. But now, because of this program, they know how to grow their own food and feed themselves.” Students bring all the information they are learning from Mary’s lessons home to their families, spreading agricultural knowledge across their community.
As part of its mission to support rural communities and agriculture, Farm Credit institutions invest their local communities, and Capital Farm Credit’s commitment is but one example.
Information for this article was gathered from Capital Farm Credit’s press release, as well as a phone interview with Mary Kniffen.