The past school year was different for students in many ways — including how they participated in FFA. The pandemic made holding fundraisers that fuel valuable learning opportunities difficult for FFA chapters. That makes the announcement surrounding Culver’s 2021 FFA Essay Contest all that much more valuable.
The winners of the contest are receiving hefty monetary awards to fund for their FFA chapters. In all, $15,000 was awarded to further learning opportunities.
The FFA members chosen to receive awards are:
- First place ($7,500): Katlyn M., Clyde FFA in Clyde, Ohio
- Second place ($5,000): Gwen H., Cambria FFA in Randolph, Wisconsin
- Third place ($2,500): Dilyn B., Elkmont FFA in Elkmont, Alabama
The essay contest allowed students to demonstrate their knowledge and passion for the industry. New this year, students could also showcase their public speaking skills through a video submission. Entries were reviewed by Culver’s and the National FFA Organization.
“Today’s FFA members are tomorrow’s agriculture leaders,” says Alison Wedig, Culver’s marketing specialist and former Wisconsin FFA president. “Many of these students will go on to dedicate their careers to ensuring a sustainable future food supply, so we want to support them and give them a forum to share their voices and passions.”
The pandemic inspired Culver’s to ask FFA members what lessons the industry learned from COVID-19, and how this knowledge can be used to improve the industry to continue progress toward a sustainable future. Katlyn M., first place winner, touched on the need to recruit innovative minds into a career in agriculture.
“Making agriculture sustainable relies on our ability to recruit and maintain smart and innovative people who have a desire to provide a safe and efficient supply of food, fiber and natural resources for the planet. Agriculture education programs around the country are preparing the next generation of agriculture’s workforce and need to be able to prepare young people who are flexible, creative and energetic about solving issues.”
Gwen H., second place winner, highlighted the resilience farmers have been forced to demonstrate during the pandemic and how that quality can be leveraged moving forward.
“I have observed the struggles of losing profit instead of gaining, and know the effect it has on those who have worked day and night for something they believe in. We can all take a step back and learn a few things about resiliency from those who provide the food for us on the table.”
Dilyn B., third place winner, focused on the idea that farming never stops, even during a pandemic.
“Farmers have overcome and adapted new methods of operation and preparation through the experience of working through the COVID-19 pandemic. With headstrong farmers and the support of the community, farming never stops.”
In a year unlike any other, these winners were able to identify key takeaways from the pandemic and turn them into actionable steps toward a sustainable future.
The essay contest is part of the Thank You Farmers Project, an initiative created by Culver’s that encourages smart farming through agricultural education programs. The Thank You Farmers Project has donated over $3 million to agricultural education over the last seven years and given $70,000 to FFA Essay Contest finalists.