FFA awards 80 chapters disaster/emergency preparedness grants

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Farm Forum

INDIANAPOLIS – FFA chapters in 34 states that developed a plan to tackle an environmental or natural disaster/emergency preparedness issue in their communities now have the funding from a national grant to bring their ideas to life.

Chapters from 80 communities learned recently that they received up to $2,000 in funds from the National FFA Organization’s Living to Serve: Environmental or Natural Disaster/Emergency Preparedness Grant Program and have begun their year-long projects. The grants are provided through funding from CSX and Bayer as a special project of the National FFA Foundation.

“The grant program is a natural fit for CSX”, said John Kitchens, Corporate Citizenship Director. “Not only are we able to support these conscientious FFA students, but many of the environmental and disaster/emergency preparedness projects they contribute to in their communities align well with company priorities.”

Each winning project includes plans to invest the time of FFA members, community members and local leaders in a service-learning project that tackles issues of environmental, natural disaster or emergency preparedness nature. One awarded chapter from the LTS: Environmental Grant, Pierz FFA in Minnesota, is partnering with their local sanitation and solid waste management companies to reduce their carbon footprint by reusing or repurposing discarded items as part of an effort to decrease the materials that end up in the landfill and to increase overall participation in recycling. Their main focus will be to find ways to reuse or repurpose black silo bags, water bottles and tires. Some ways they will do this include: collecting used silo bags and cutting them into tarps that will be available to the public to be used as weed barriers in gardens, building greenhouses using used plastic water bottles and repurposing old tires from area farmers to be used as planters that will also be donated.

A recipient of the Natural Disaster and Emergency Preparedness Grant program is Greensburg FFA in Indiana. The chapter will be implementing a three pronged program titled, “Out of Harm’s Way.” It will focus on these areas: school building emergency preparedness, farm emergency plans and a safety program series. The safety program will be a series of short courses that will partner emergency response personnel with trained FFA members and interested students as presenters. Topics will include Water safety, ATV safety, Fire Safety, Firearm Safety, Severe Weather/Tornado Safety and Railway Safety. Each safety program will be targeted toward the specific demographic age group most prone to the accident type. After each program, a multi-agency debriefing will take place to assess effectiveness.

The National FFA Organization makes grant funds available for FFA chapters to develop service-learning projects that impact environmental or natural disaster/emergency preparedness issues in their community. Chapters may apply for up to $2,000 to support yearlong service-learning projects focused on developing and implementing projects that address local needs. The service-learning method challenged members to identify research, develop and implement solutions to needs within their school or community.

These projects illustrate the final line of the FFA motto (“Learning to Do, Doing to Learn, Earning to Live, Living to Serve”) by encouraging FFA members to unite in service within their communities. These grants take community service one step further to service-learning, which provides a meaningful way to apply leadership and education skills learned in school and FFA.