Since 1928, the California FFA has been encouraging high school students to pursue a wide range of careers related to agriculture through hands-on learning and leadership development. And throughout virtually all of FFA’s history, Farm Credit has been a proud supporter of the organization.
That support continues today, as Farm Credit associations in California together with CoBank, a national cooperative bank and member of the Farm Credit System, are collectively donating $250,000 over the four years ending in 2020. The grant will support the state FFA organization as it continues to expand its efforts and serve its more than 89,000 members.
“A large part of our collective success at the local and state level is due to industry leaders like Farm Credit that continue to invest in the next generation,” said Katie Otto, development director for the California FFA Foundation, the fundraising arm of the organization formerly known as the Future Farmers of America.
“They have been generous donors and, more importantly, partners. There are countless Farm Credit employees who are former FFA members and now sit on local FFA chapter booster, alumni and advisory committees. They have kids in local FFA programs, and support chapters in every aspect of what they do. That’s in addition to the generous financial support.”
Leili Ghazi, president of CoBank’s Western Region Agribusiness Banking Group, said Farm Credit supports FFA so strongly because FFA students really are the future of farming in the Golden State.
“Agriculture remains a vital part of California’s economy, but more importantly it is essential for feeding the nation and indeed the world,” Ghazi said. “By investing in young people today, we’re helping ensure the industry will remain strong and vibrant for decades to come.”
According to Otto, Farm Credit has contributed more than a half-million dollars directly to California FFA over the past 25 years and at least that much more in donations and assistance to the more than 330 local chapters in both urban and rural parts of the state.
Otto said Farm Credit support has been crucial to the success of numerous initiatives and programs, including:
• Increasing the number of students who can participate in programs – especially important as FFA’s membership has grown to an all-time high in recent years.
• Keeping more than 50 leadership development conferences affordable for students, ensuring that despite family income, the students can attend and learn.
• Allowing FFA to construct a sign outside its 10-year-old headquarters in Galt, providing exposure to thousands of travelers a day passing by on Highway 99.
Farm Credit’s local support involves more than just donations. At the recent California FFA State Finals Competition at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Farm Credit donated approximately $14,000 to buy food for the end-of-year barbecue and employees of the local Farm Credit West branch did all the cooking. More than 2,500 students from across the state participated in the competition, competing in 21 events, including agronomy, dairy cattle, farm business management, marketing, veterinary science and welding.
American Ag Credit, Farm Credit West, CoBank, Fresno-Madera Farm Credit, Golden State Farm Credit, Colusa-Glenn Farm Credit and Yosemite Farm Credit are cooperatively owned lending institutions providing agriculture and rural America with a dependable source of credit. They specialize in financing farmers, ranchers, farmer-owned cooperatives, rural utilities and agribusinesses. Farm Credit offers a broad range of loan products and financial services, including long-term real estate loans, operating lines of credit, equipment and facility loans, cash management and appraisal and leasing services. For more information, visit www.farmcreditalliance.com.
California FFA serves more than 89,000 California high school students and strives to make a difference in their lives by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through career technical education.