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Rural Spirit Awards announced, FFA chapter among the honorees

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Osborn Barr | Paramore  — an agency serving the agriculture and rural industry for more than three decades — announced the winners of its first annual Rural Spirit Awards, which aim to give back to individuals who build, serve and inspire rural communities. Split into three categories, the winners are:

  • Next Gen Award: FFA Team from Normal Community High School in Normal, IL
  • Economic Development Award: Brent Comstock of Lincoln, NE
  • Community Service Award: Dustin Row of Columbia, IL

The FFA Team of Normal Community High School can be accredited for starting the #FFA10GallonChallenge — a viral project that prompted 300 FFA chapters to donate a total of 3,000 gallons of milk to local homeless shelters. These FFA members were inspired when they discovered two dilemmas within both the dairy industry and rural communities: dairy farmers are currently struggling with low milk prices, while milk is one of the most requested items by those served at local shelters and food banks, it is often the least donated item. The #FFA10GallonChallenge helped address both of those needs.

Brent Comstock is an entrepreneur, rural economic developer, venture capitalist and keynote speaker. Since the age of 12, he has served as founder and CEO of the nationally recognized company BCom Solutions. His company’s success has allowed him to dive deeper into rural entrepreneurship with the development of the Rural Impact Hub, a place for rural community organizations to partner together and collaborate ways to support and strengthen rural America.

Dustin Row is the Founder and President of Songs4Soldiers (S4S), which works to not only offer assistance to veterans, but to share their stories with those who support the organization’s efforts. A veteran himself, Row began S4S with the idea of helping “4” combat veterans each year. Since 2013, through an annual benefit concert and donations, S4S has donated more than $500,000 to 350+ veterans and six other organizations focused on helping local veterans.

Each Rural Spirit Awards winner received $2,000 to donate to a non-profit organization of their choice — with donations made in the winners’ names. Additionally, each winner received an all-expenses paid trip to St. Louis, where they were publicly recognized during an awards celebration at O+B | P’s St. Louis office on Dec. 12. For more information, visit ruralspiritawards.com.

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