Representatives of 11 Illinois groups received a total of $102,000 in support from 1st Farm Credit Services for education, youth and leadership programs in 2013. (Photo by Carrie Muehling/WJBC)
By Carrie Muehling
NORMAL – 1st Farm Credit Services continued support Monday of groups dedicated to agriculture education, youth and leadership in Illinois.
The cooperative, which serves 42 counties in the northern half of Illinois, established a donor advised fund in 2010 with an initial donation of $1 million, and followed up with another donation of $250,000 in 2012.
This year the company is distributing $102,000 to 11 groups across the state.
“It’s a very important and exciting function for us to be able to do that. 1st Farm Credit Services is very committed to agriculture and the future of agriculture and training young leaders,” said Steve Cowser, chairman of the board for 1st Farm Credit Services.
Groups who received funding last year shared ways they used the money during an event on Apr. 22.
“We’ve been very pleased with how the funds have been put to use. It’s actually pretty touching to see some of the lives that are helped through the donations that are made,” said Cowser. “1st Farm Credit Services feels that that’s part of our mission, to help bring future people for agriculture.”
Illinois State University was one of three educational institutions receiving support.
“It just helps the students get opportunities to develop leadership skills and put those skills to work and then be recognized for those great achievements,” said Dick Steffen, professor of ag education at Illinois State University.
Steffen said the agriculture department at ISU has grown from 250 students to 400 in recent. That means participation in student organizations has grown, too. Students travel to events like the State PAS Conference and the National FFA Convention for recruiting and competing. ISU was recently named the Outstanding Student Chapter of the National Agri-Marketing Association (NAMA).
A first time recipient of funding this year is the Women Changing the Face of Agriculture Conference, which is a project of the Illinois Agri-Women.
“This will help us to expand our outreach to other professionals and to help with our effort of Women Changing the Face of Agriculture,” said Diana Ropp, who is a commodity broker with Bates Commodities as well as an organizer for the conference, which is a project of the Illinois Agri-Women.
The group plans to use funds for scholarships and to help defray expenses for the 2014 conference at John Wood Community College in Quincy, Ill. The career discovery event for college and high school young women brings professional women from all over the agriculture industry to educate about careers in agriculture. More than 500 attended the 2013 event in Carbondale last month.
The following organizations received funds for 2013:
To date, more than $262,000 has been distributed from the fund, impacting 580,000 lives from youth to farm families to teachers. 1st Farm Credit Services established the Donor Advised Fund through the IAA Foundation.
Carrie Muehling can be reached at email@example.com.