At the Farm Progress Show in Decatur, Ill., Bayer announced that it was making a $6 million commitment over the next five years to National 4-H and the National FFA Organization to develop future leaders in food and agriculture.
The funds will provide multiyear support for many of the key programs and activities for which the two youth organizations are known, including hands-on science activities for learning, engaging within their communities and developing leadership skills among young people.
"This is an exciting day and I'm proud to play a part in helping invest in the future of agriculture and the bright minds who will make a difference in our industry and world," said Lisa Safarian, North American president of the Crop Science Division of Bayer.
Bayer's more than $6 million commitment is in addition to grants directed to rural school districts, nonprofits and local 4-H clubs and FFA chapters through the America's Farmers programs, a nationwide effort dedicated to strengthening farm communities across the U.S., sponsored by Bayer Fund. Since 2010, through the America's Farmers programs, participating farmers have directed more than $53 million to these and other organizations across the U.S.
"Whether you are from rural America, a large city or somewhere in between, the young people who belong to these two organizations have a tremendous opportunity to make a positive impact on our world through agriculture,” Safarian added. “Personally, I can't wait to see what new ideas will come from the leaders these two important organizations help shape."
Based in Indianapolis, Ind., FFA prepares its members for leadership and careers in the science, business and technology of agriculture. For nearly a century, FFA and its members have been able to stimulate new ideas and unlock the talent of young people through hands-on experiences.
"Together, 4-H and Bayer have been able to reach thousands of students with hands-on learning experiences, igniting their interests in agriculture at an early age," said Jennifer Sirangelo, president of the National 4-H Council. "We're grateful for our partnership with Bayer and the ability to continue our efforts in providing engaging opportunities and critical resources for the next generation of young leaders in agriculture."
As the largest youth development organization, with 6 million members across the country, 4-H aims to support the development of the next generation of leaders and empower diverse youth from rural, suburban and urban communities with skills to lead for a lifetime.
“We have big plans for this money,” Sirangelo said. “We are going to reach 1.25 million youth with this money to fund the excitement of science and [science, technology, engineering and math]. 4-H and Bayer can help young people create technology, not just consume it.”
Mark Poeschl, chief executive officer of the National FFA Organization, said 700,000 FFA members in 8,600 chapters across the country will benefit from this gift.
"FFA strives to give our members the tools they need to achieve real-world success in agriculture and leadership. Our partnership with Bayer has enabled us to provide programming that is central to our mission and vision," he said. "Our members are making an impact in their communities every day, and through Bayer's renewed commitment, we are able to continue to provide the next generation of leaders."
The state FFA officer teams from Indiana and Illinois were on hand for the announcement.