A Nebraska business owner and former FFA member has established a major endowment to support the development of current and future FFA members.
Through use of a revocable trust, the Ron Grapes Family Broadening Agriculture Experience Fund will provide grants that FFA members can use to successfully complete their required supervised agricultural experience.
All FFA members are required to complete a supervised agricultural experience, a project they conceptualize with the help of their teachers that involves them either owning and operating an agricultural-based business, getting an agriculture-based job or internship or plan and conduct an agriculture-related scientific experiment.
This learn-by-doing project gives FFA members invaluable experience as they progress through their educational careers, says Duane Brodt, marketing and communications director, National FFA Foundation.
Ron Grapes' gift marks the first time in the 85-year history of FFA that an endowment specifically supporting the organization's supervised agricultural experience program has been established.
Nebraska FFA members are first in line to receive financial assistance through the new fund, according to specifics of the endowment. Students with the least agricultural background and students living in urban communities are next, followed by students with an interest in production agriculture.
The endowment must be fully funded and earn income for a full 12 months before the first scholarship is awarded, Brodt says.
As a teenager, Grapes served as his FFA chapter's vice president, competed in his state's FFA meat judging contest and had the opportunity to attend Nebraska's state FFA convention. Today, he is principal owner of Grapes Family Farms in Big Springs.
"With this gift, I wanted to help provide an educated voice for the future national and global discussions of agriculture," he adds.
Grapes said his decision to support the FFA was easy because he personally knows the true impact the FFA can have on a young person's life. "I want others to know how easy it was to capture my dreams for helping guide the lives of young people," he says. "This endowment will perpetually fund dreams of students for generations--and I did it all through my estate."
The National FFA Foundation is the fundraising arm of the National FFA Organization, which provides leadership, personal growth and career success training through agricultural education to 540,379 student members in grades seven through 12 who belong to one of 7,489 local FFA chapters throughout the U.S., Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.