CHS Foundation gift of $3.44m to transform ag education

Grant to support University of Minnesota programs to engage youth in agricultural experiences and build a new ag education model.

The CHS Foundation, funded by charitable gifts from farmer-owned cooperative CHS Inc., announced Sept. 7 a $3.44 million grant to the University of Minnesota intended to transform agriculture education from kindergarten through higher education.

The gift is the largest ever awarded by the CHS Foundation and will support a comprehensive approach to affecting agricultural education and rural communities across the country, the announcement said.

"The CHS Foundation is committed to growing the next generation of agriculture leaders," CHS Foundation president Linda Tank said. "Together with the University of Minnesota, we are cultivating, preparing and helping agriculture leaders thrive now and into the future."

The agriculture sector continues to face a growing shortfall of graduates versus available jobs. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that more than 20,000 agriculture jobs are left unfilled annually, the CHS Foundation said, adding that there are approximately 30 jobs in the agriculture industry for every one qualified individual.

The gift, and related programs funded by it, will develop leaders in rural America, engage youth in agricultural experiences and build a new agricultural education model.

Specific programs funded by the CHS Foundation grant include:

* Creation of the CHS agriculture education technology lab;

* Exclusive support for AgCultures adventure learning project curriculum;

* Integrating agriculture-infused curriculum in K-12 classrooms;

* Development of agricultural literacy programs, in conjunction with 4-H and the Minnesota Youth Institute;

* Creation of agriculture and science programs at the Bell Museum, and

* Creation of the CHS agriculture education endowed fellowship at the University of Minnesota.

"We are charting a new course for the future of ag education with new technologies, interdisciplinary curriculum and experiential learning that combine best practices in agriculture and natural resource sciences," said Brian Buhr, dean of the University of Minnesota's College of Food, Agriculture & Natural Resource Sciences. "This critical support from CHS and the CHS Foundation will better prepare future agriculture leaders and educators while strengthening rural communities."

In 2015, the CHS Foundation gave $11.2 million to support the development of future agricultural leaders, improve agricultural safety and enhance rural vitality.

The CHS Foundation is funded by charitable gifts from CHS Inc., the nation's leading farmer-owned cooperative and a global energy, grain and food company. As a part of the CHS stewardship focus, the CHS Foundation supports organizations that develop future leaders for agriculture through education and leadership programs, that improve agricultural safety and that enhance community vitality in rural America.

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