I Believe in the Future of Ag Campaign Kicks Off


September marks the official start of the seventh annual I Believe in the Future of Ag fundraising campaign. This campaign serves as an outlet for local FFA chapters to raise money for innovative projects in their classrooms, leadership programming, community service projects and field trips to advance agriculture education in their schools.

This year, Aurora Cooperative, BigIron Auctions, Central Valley Ag, CPI, DEKALB/Asgrow and Verdesian committed $20,000 each to the campaign. Other sponsors, contributing $10,000 each, include Bayer CropScience, CoBank, Country Partners Cooperative, CHS Foundation, GrainBridge, FMC, Farm Credit Services of America, Farmers Cooperative, First National Bank Omaha, Frontier Coop, Koch Fertilizer, Lindsay Corporation, Nebraska Farm Bureau, Pinnacle Bank, Producers Livestock, Valley Irrigation and WinField Solutions.

100 percent of each local donation will be sent back to the designated chapter at the end of the campaign and the Nebraska FFA Foundation, along with its corporate partners, will provide extra incentives to participating FFA chapters. This year, $35,000 in matching funds will be distributed to participating chapters.

“Nebraska FFA chapters have raised over a million dollars for their local agriculture education and FFA programs since the inception of the I Believe in the Future of Ag campaign. Seeing the growth of agricultural education and the many innovative and educational programs that chapters are fundraising for makes me proud of the work of this campaign and I encourage everyone who has been impacted by agriculture education to make a donation to their local FFA chapter to enhance learning for every student, in every classroom, every day,” says Stacey Agnew, Nebraska FFA Foundation Executive Director.



Ahrens Family Believes In Agriculture

By Nebraska Teach Ag Intern Miranda Paitzahrens- 3

The Ravenna FFA Chapter is thankful to have an SAE scholarship, which is funded by the Milton and Mary Jo Ahrens Memorial. This scholarship is offered to the freshmen FFA members who are wanting to expand and/or improve their enterprises.

Agriculture and FFA have always been a large part of the Ahrens family. It started when Milton was in high school and became a member of the Shelton FFA program. He worked hard with his agriculture projects as very involved in the program and was President of theahrens- 1 ahrens- 2.pngchapter his senior year in 1961.  At the banquet his high school sweetheart and future wife, Mary Jo was elected the Shelton FFA Sweetheart.  In 1963, Milton Ahrens was one of six FFA members to receive his American Farmer Degree.  Three of their children Meri Lynn Pehrson, Marc Ahrens and Heath Ahrens were able to achieve their State Degrees and Heath also received his American Degree in 1999.

Milton and Mary Jo were able to raise their family south of Ravenna and were active in farming for the remainder of their lives. Both Milton and Mary Jo have been avid ahrens- 4supporters of agriculture and FFA and their children have been able to make their own impacts on agriculture because of their guidance. The Ahrens children and grandchildren have been involved in FFA since 1978 to current.  Agriculture is the common bond of the Ahrens family; they wanted to offer younger students the opportunity to grow their enterprises and through the I Believe In Agriculture Campaign, they are able to accomplish their goals.

As part of the statewide effort, local donors select which chapter receives their donation. The entire donation and a portion of matching funds go directly to the chapter to use for innovative projects in their classrooms, leadership programming, community service projects and field trips to advance agriculture education in their schools. The annual campaign runs from August through February each year. FFA-I-Believe-Logo


DuPont Pioneer and Nebraska Soybean Board Invest $45,000 for Agriculture Education Curriculum Training


Agriculture teachers from all over Nebraska were able to attend the Curriculum for Agricultural Science Education (CASE) on June 19-29. The CASE Institute is an 80-hour institute held each year for agricultural teachers. This year the Nebraska Soybean Board and DuPont Pioneer collaborated to invest $45,000 for Nebraska’s agriculture teachers to attend CASE and purchase equipment needed to implement the curriculum for their classrooms.

“This is a good effort for industry and a commodity board to further agricultural education in our schools. The program shares the expertise of others to raise the level of agricultural education in our schools,” says Victor Bohuslavsky, Executive Director of the Nebraska Soybean Board.

CASE currently provides many courses including Introduction to Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources to Food Safety to Animal and Plant Biotechnology. The institute teaches agricultural teachers how to prepare their students for success in college and for careers in science, technology, engineering and math.


“Ensuring there is enough safe, affordable and nutritious food for all will require than more students understand agriculture and become future leaders in food production,” said Mark Deterding, Business Director for DuPont Pioneer’s Western Business Unit. “We know that we cannot do this alone and are working with others in agriculture and education to give teachers the best resources to encourage children to understand agriculture and consider careers in the industry.”

While teachers can attend any Institute, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) hosts an Institute each summer. Matt Kreifels, Assistant Professor of Practice with UNL’s Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communication Department says, “we expect our teachers to know everything and teach all areas of agriculture, food and natural resources. The reality is they have very minimal resources to equip both themselves and their classrooms to teach this valuable information. The CASE Institute is unique and very beneficial to a teacher. They can easily implement that curriculum right in their classroom.”

2016 FFA Convention Career Fair Showcases Careers in Rural Nebraska

More than 3,000 Nebraska FFA students will engage with more than 40 agricultural companies during the annual State FFA Convention Career Fair April 8.

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This event will allow students to explore future career opportunities while helping to address the issues around the shortage of employees in agriculture, which includes rural Nebraska.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), agriculture industries contributed over $800 billion in U.S. gross domestic product. This is promising for FFA members in Nebraska who are prepared for careers in agriculture, food and natural resources. The USDA expects an average of 57,900 new agriculture related jobs annually between 2015 and 2020. However, only 61 percent of these jobs will be filled with graduates with expertise in food, agriculture, renewable natural resources or the environment. The agriculture classroom, supervised agriculture experiences and the FFA student organization is helping to fill this gap by engaging students in agriculture career opportunities and career readiness skills.

Nebraska FFA industry partners Verdesian Life Sciences and Aurora Cooperative understand the value of connecting early with future potential employees.

“Our [agriculture] industry has emerged from a blue-collar dominated work force to a much more technical and science based background as we move forward,” Dave Schwartz, Verdesian Life Sciences executive vice president of sales, said. “A career in agriculture is something that will be very challenging and rewarding as they grow older and become parents themselves, and there is no better place to settle down and raise a family than a rural community.”

“I truly enjoy working in rural Nebraska. There are inherent challenges to working in rural Nebraska, such as; having to travel longer distances for certain kinds of shopping, entertainment, medical care and so on,” Dawn Caldwell, Aurora Cooperative communications manager, said. “However, I think most people would say, having neighbors a mile or two away who are always there for you, being able to enjoy the stars at night and knowing you are a part of something much bigger than yourself [contributing to the creation of food, fiber and fuel], is tremendously rewarding.”


Auburn FFA Starts Off Strong with “I Believe” Program

Auburn FFA Officers


In just their second year participating in the “I Believe in the Future of Ag” fundraising campaign, the Auburn FFA Chapter helps with local hunger problems in their community by using funds donated from community members.

The Auburn FFA Chapter took the initiative to help support the

local BackPack Program to send out approximately 50 backpacks per week. The FFA chapter not only helps with the food aspect, but also collects coats and hats to give to the families.

“The ‘I Believe’ campaign is a great way for FFA chapters to raise money because students interact with community members and business leaders while providing funds for their chapter. It truly engages the community and the FFA chapter,” Ashton Bohling, Auburn FFA Chapter advisor said. Most of their campaigning for the “I

Believe” fundraising was through word of mouth, letters and their Facebook page.

The “I Believe in the Future of Ag” campaign educates the public on the importance of agricultural education in Nebraska schools through an educational marketing campaign and serves as a fundraising campaign to grow the capacity of Nebraska FFA at both the state and local levels.

23 corporate partners challenged Nebraska’s FFA members to raise $300,000 at the local level in the 2015-16 campaign. This year FFA Chapters went past the goal to raise over $301,000. The corporate partners not only provided $35,000 in matching funds

for Nebraska FFA chapters during the 2015-16 campaign but also gave funds to develop the campaign and educational marketing pieces.

“The beauty of this campaign is that it gives a local FFA advisor the opportunity to ask for a tax-deductible donation to do things they couldn’t otherwise afford. It also helps them develop a group of community supporters,” Stacey Agnew, executive director of the Nebraska FFA Foundation said. “We’re seeing some really cool initiatives in our FFA chapters.”

The Auburn FFA Chapter along with all other Nebraska FFA Chapters would like to thank all of the corporate sponsors and local donors for donating to the “I Believe in the Future of Ag” campaign.

NIFA Reaches Out To FFA and Agriculture

Nebraska Investment Finance Authority (NIFA) is a premier sponsor of Nebraska FFA. Their purpose is to provide programs with low-interest rate financing to encourage the investment of private capital in Nebraska. They provide financing for many programs, such as; farm property, wastewater treatment and safe drinking water facilities, and homeownership. NIFA has a board comprised of nine members, which include; Director of the Nebraska Department of Economic Development, Chairperson of Nebraska Investment Council, Director of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, and six public members appointed by the governor.

NIFA logo

NIFA chooses to support Nebraska FFA because they want to help beginning farmers and ranchers in Nebraska as their mission implies. Dudley Beyer, NIFA Agriculture Programs Manager said, “We believe donating to the FFA fits in with that mission as we reach out to the grass roots level of agriculture.” NIFA feels as though they benefit from FFA members indirectly by helping them to learn more about agriculture and become a better business person. They feel that this will help Nebraska as a whole. NIFA has been a sponsor to the Nebraska FFA Foundation for 19 years. They have a beginning farmers and ranchers program that is often used by FFA members. They sponsor the Governor’s Agricultural Excellence Awards.

The Nebraska FFA Foundation would like to thank Nebraska Investment Finance Authority for their generous donations.

Nebraska Soybean Board Proudly Supports FFA Youth

Nebraska Soybean Board is one of our Spotlight Sponsors because of the great support they provide to Nebraska FFA. The Nebraska Soybean Board oversees the investments of the soybean checkoff to maximize profit opportunities for Nebraska soybean farmers. The Nebraska Soybean Checkoff receives its funds by collecting one half of one percent times the net sales price per bushel of soybeans sold in the state. The nine farmer directors then invest the money into research, education, and domestic and international markets.

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Teri Zimmerman, Education and Outreach Manager at Nebraska Soybean Board said, “The Nebraska Soybean Checkoff proudly supports our youth in the FFA organization and agricultural education. By supporting FFA, we are enabling students to have the opportunity to gain knowledge and skills in agriculture as well as explore careers within this industry.” They have funded the Nebraska FFA since 1997. They feel that it is important to support FFA because they want students to grow as leaders and continue to expand their knowledge of agriculture. The Soybean Board not only supports state FFA, but also supports local FFA chapters. They have held a statewide chapter video contest, protein and oil testing fundraiser for FFA chapters, sponsor the Fiber and/or Oil Crop Production Proficiency award, and many other activities. Zimmerman also said, “Today, more than ever, agriculture needs knowledgeable and skilled individuals to represent and share the positive message of our farmers, ranchers, and agribusinesses, and we believe Nebraska FFA is a big part of doing this.”

The Nebraska FFA Foundation would like to thank the Nebraska Soybean Board for their generous donations.