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Persistence pays off for college junior determined to win scholarship By Jami Stall

Largest endowment in FFA history to impact thousands New endowment established with the National FFA Foundation will allow thousands of future FFA members to attend the organization’s largest leadership development conference – free of charge.



hen Matthew Armbruster (above) won $8,000 this past spring as part of the National FFA Scholarship Program, the Purdue University junior also scored a couple of rich life lessons. First and foremost: Father knows best. Second: Persistence pays off. The 21-year-old agricultural education major (with a horticulture sciences minor) first applied for an FFA scholarship as a high school senior. Passed over for the honor, he continued to apply year Continued on page 2

Inside This Issue:

• Individual Contributors + FFA: Perfect Match

• Rite of Passage Road Trip • Shining Star Agriscience Winner

nce active, the Glenn and Maggie Stith Leadership Development Fund Endowment could provide about $1,500 each for 110 eligible FFA members from throughout the country to attend the annual Washington Leadership Conference each year. The scholarship will cover the cost of each recipient to attend the conference and provide a stipend to cover travel, meals, lodging and other conference-related expenses. Glenn Stith of Ankeny, Iowa, grew up on a family farm in Kentucky and was an FFA member in high school. He retired in 2010 as vice president of U.S. Branded Business for Seeds, Biotech Traits and Chemistry and Global Lead of Seminis Vegetable Seeds at Monsanto for 35 years. Glenn and wife Maggie, a senior regional director at the National FFA Foundation, announced their gift at the 2013 Washington Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C. “My dad told me and my two brothers that we would have to find our own way back from high school sports events. We lived 20 miles away from high school. But my dad took time away from farming to drive us to and from FFA activities,” Glenn said. “That’s how strongly he felt about FFA and agricultural education.” To be eligible for a scholarship to attend the conference through the endowment, students will have to be active FFA members in good academic standing with a minimum of a 2.5 cumulative GPA. Qualifying FFA members will have to demonstrate financial need and be first-time attendees to the conference. Eligible FFA members who reside in Kentucky will be given first preference to receive a scholarship to attend the conference. More than 1,800 students are Continued on page 2

Glenn (second from left) and Maggie (right) Stith of Ankeny, Iowa, interact with FFA members from throughout the country Wednesday, June 5, 2013, in Washington, D.C., after announcing a major endowment the couple established through the National FFA Foundation. (Photo by Greg Kahn/Greg Kahn Photography for the National FFA Organization)

Blue Jackets. Bright Futures!

Summer 2013


Largest endowment in FFA history to impact thousands Continued from page 1

registered for the 2013 Washington Leadership Conference, the second-largest student experience that the National FFA Organization hosts each year. From June 4-July 21, FFA members will spend a week under the guidance of educational professionals, counselors and professional FFA staff members. In workshops, seminars and small groups, students will focus on identifying and developing their personal strengths and goals and undergo comprehensive leadership training that will help them guide their local FFA chapters. “Glenn and Maggie’s generosity will make it possible for thousands of FFA members to attend the Washington Leadership Conference for years to come,” said National FFA Organization CEO Dr. Dwight Armstrong.

Glenn and Maggie’s generosity will make it possible for thousands of FFA members to attend the Washington Leadership Conference for years to come. “Their generosity focuses on one of our core values, which is living to serve. Giving back and helping future generations has always been a driving force in Glenn Stith’s personal and professional life. He and Maggie encourage others to contemplate how they can make a difference in the lives of others through dedication and support.” Since being an FFA member, Glenn has made giving back to FFA a top priority, including stints serving as chair of the foundation’s Sponsors’ Board and on the board of trustees. He became a member of the foundation’s Individual Giving Council last year and will assume chair of the group later this year. “The most satisfying thing I can do is give back and help young people achieve their dreams and have an opportunity to enjoy a wonderful career like I’ve had,” he said. “There is no greater satisfaction than being able to give back to a good cause like FFA.”


Summer 2013

Blue Jackets. Bright Futures!

Persistence pays off for college junior determined to win Continued from page 1 scholarship after year, at the insistence of his father, Jim Armbruster, a former FFA advisor and agriculture teacher of nearly 20 years. “My dad kept telling me that it never hurts to try, but that I would never get a scholarship if I did not apply,” Armbruster explains. “I’m persistent and competitive by nature and have always tried to do my best in everything I do.” With his tuition, books and board running about $16,000 annually, the soon-tobe senior appreciates the financial leg up this scholarship gives him. And it’s downright encouraging. “It makes me feel like all the hours I put into my FFA chapter was worth something even more,” he says. Vowing to pay his own way through college, Armbruster says it also means one less loan to face when he hopefully follows in his father’s footsteps and becomes a teacher

of agricultural science and business and an FFA advisor himself. Armbruster is in good company. The National FFA Foundation awarded 1,645 scholarships valued at just a bit more than $2 million to the best, brightest—and, yes, most persistent applicants. According to Todd Greenwood, director of corporate contributions, the dealer programs are what made this financially possible. “The National FFA Foundation has been trying to strengthen and deepen our relationships within each of the companies. And when you look at the major scholarships, those from Ford, RAM Trucks, AGCO and John Deere alone accounted for 60 percent of them.” Greenwood says as long as financial need exists so will the push for further success of this program.

Individual Contributors + FFA = A perfect match By Jami Stall


he National FFA Foundation stands apart from other nonprofits in some pretty unique ways. One of them is how it acquires most of its financial support—through generous corporate sponsors. And though the organization couldn’t be more grateful, efforts are underway to secure additional donors. According to Natalie Clayton, FFA giving manager, most nonprofit organizations get 80-85 percent of their funding from individual donors, but approximately 90 percent of FFA funding comes from corporate sponsors. “That’s great, but we know that we need to be more sustainable and diversify where our funding is coming from,” Clayton says. That’s where a group known as the Individual Giving Council comes in. The IGC, a group of now 11 members, increased their personal contributions to create the Leadership Matching Challenge program. Ranging from the thirty-something professionals and entrepreneurs to the near-retirement-age sages, this diverse group includes former FFA members, agribusiness experts and professional fundraisers. But their common thread is obvious: the desire to grow the organization’s individual donor database.

The Leadership Matching Challenge, which launched in 2012, matches all firsttime donor gifts, and it matches increased current donor funds of any amount to meet (or exceed) $1,000. Clayton says it was so successful in 2012, her department had to approach the council to say they’d already reached the $100,000 mark before the convention and expo in October. The council green-lighted them to continue matching donations, to the tune of more than $125,000 by year’s end. “From Jan. 1 to April 30 in 2012, we’d matched a bit more than $17,000, but in that same time period in 2013 we’d already matched almost $70,000,” Clayton says. “And we’ll likely hit the $300,000 mark by the end of this year.” She attributes the success of the LeaderContinued on page 4

Today’s WLC harkens memories of rite-of-passage road trip

Shining Star in Agriscience winner develops lycopene skin cream

By Jami Stall


ack in the summer of ‘59, the Everly Brothers and Elvis Presley crooned on the radio, and gasoline was about 21 cents a gallon in Phoenix, Ariz. That’s where five teenage boys, all officers from different FFA chapters in the state, piled into a ‘57 Ford full-size sedan and took turns driving 2,300 miles, for almost 48 straight hours. Their destination: Washington, D.C. Their goal: To attend a national FFA leadership conference—one that began as the “FFA Pilgrimage to the Nation’s Capital” in 1933. It’s the very one that would eventually evolve into what is now the Washington Leadership In 1959, these five FFA chapter officers drove 2,300 miles to Washington, D.C., to take part in a national FFA leadership conference. Conference. Without the Interstate Highway System (which hadn’t been built yet) and none of today’s technological convenience, the young men managed with a map and moxie to navigate the myriad of winding roads that led them through tiny towns and trackless countryside. Then and now, to most adults—especially parents, teachers and advisors—a journey under these circumstances has “bad idea” written all over it. But for these road-trippers, it went off without a hitch. Fifty-four years later they still fondly recall this rite of passage. Ken Williams and Ron Rayner were the self-proclaimed “instigators” of the trip. The two men, who were state FFA officers, have remained friends over the years. They say that the highlights of their expedition were earning their parents’ trust and seeing the national capital’s monuments and attractions. Both were awed by the Arlington National Cemetery changing of the guard ceremony, but their biggest thrill was standing in the White House Rose Garden with President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who spoke to their FFA group. The various FFA seminars they attended during that Washington, D.C., trip taught them some of the very leadership skills they’ve used throughout their highly successful careers in agriculture. For this reason they continue to champion the organization by giving their time and scholarship funds and donations. Williams is a donor and supporter of the National FFA Foundation and believes that supporting agribusiness education remains an effective way to foster the next generation of agricultural leaders. “With the increasing cost of a college education, my wife, Judy, and I want to help motivated young people pursue their dreams,” he says. “Not only will these scholarships help improve their lives, but creating strong leaders is critical to the success of agriculture and our nation.” The Washington Leadership Conference of today may have a different name and newer training tools, but he believes that the message is not unlike that which he and his pals learned so many years ago. “There’s still great value in making the trip, whether you get there by car or airplane,” he says. “The educational leadership training was the issue then and it’s still the issue today.”

There’s still great value in making the trip...

…and embodies the importance of giving in the development of future leaders By Courtney Leeper


FA member Taylor Runyan (above) is an Oklahoma ranch girl with a knack for scientific research, and she combines her background and skills to fulfill her greatest desire—helping people. Last October, the National FFA Organization recognized 21-year-old Runyan as the 2012 American Star in Agriscience for her research involving produce, primarily tomatoes. The American Star awards represent the highest honor FFA can bestow on its members. Thanks to the generosity of sponsors Alltech Inc., Case IH, Elanco, Farm Credit, Pioneer Hi-Bred, a DuPont Business, and Syngenta as a special project of the National FFA Foundation, each winner receives a $4,000 scholarship from FFA. One opportunity, working for the United States Department of Agriculture – Agricultural Research Service and Dr. Penelope Perkins-Veazie, a postharvest research scientist, became instrumental in Runyan’s life. During her freshman year, Runyan studied more than 5,000 tomato specimens from various area grocery stores to determine their lycopene and sugar contents. One day, Runyan came across an article on a study finding lycopene’s ability to block the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Runyan used the lycopene to develop a skin cream, and then tested it to see if it would Continued on page 4

Blue Jackets. Bright Futures!

Summer 2013


Donor SPotlight: SPotlight: Donor

Shining Star in Agriscience winner develops lycopene skin cream Continued from page 3 block ultraviolet rays. It did. Bolstered by success, Runyan decided to take her findings to the next level. She worked with a microbiology pathologist to see how effective the lycopene-based cream could be on human skin health. Runyan applied the cream to human cancer cells as a topical barrier and then experimented to compare it to sunscreen. The cells were exposed to the same light exposure for different periods of time. The findings: The lycopene-based cream was as effective in blocking UV rays as SPF-50 sunscreen. Providing opportunities that help FFA members succeed into the future is the primary goal of the National FFA Foundation. “Students like Taylor exemplify what it means to be an FFA member and pursue career success,” said Todd Greenwood, director of corporate contributions for the National FFA Foundation. “Because of her involvement and with the support of sponsors and donors she has the necessary skills to go on to a successful career.”

Individual Contributors + FFA = A perfect match Continued from page 2

ship Matching Challenge to several key efforts, one of the most important of which is the central message sent to donors: “You make FFA possible.” Those words top every donation letter mailed. “We’re letting people know that they’re the reason FFA exists,” Clayton says. Enticing first-time donors is often a matter of appealing to their sense of loyalty and responsibility. “Our values match their values. Our passions are their passions,” she says. “I think that’s why people are giving. And we’re trying to help them see that they can support something that they would feel really good about.” Like more than 70 percent of FFA staff members, Clayton gives to the National FFA Organization. “I donate because I see the value in the work, and I meet these members and they’re incredible. They’re articulate. They’re educated and they’re passionate,” she explains. “You know they’re going to be contributors in their communities—someone you’d want as a neighbor; someone you’d like around you in your life. It’s just a natural fit.”


Summer 2013

Blue Jackets. Bright Futures!

Dow AgroSciences proud to partner with FFA By Geoffrey Miller


he neighborly spirit shared between Dow AgroSciences and the National FFA Organization is more than just one of physical proximity. Dow AgroSciences—with a sprawling facility that sits directly next to the National FFA Center in Indianapolis—is a Silver Sponsor of the National FFA Foundation, giving between $250,000 and $499,999 each year. It’s a relationship built on a shared vision of value for agriculture in the future, said David Sousa, Dow AgroScience’s public affairs manager. “Both FFA and Dow AgroSciences are committed to sustaining modern agriculture; identifying and nurturing tomorrow’s scientists, technicians, engineers and mathematicians; and making positive contributions to the communities in which we live and work,” Sousa said. This year, Dow AgroSciences increased its support of FFA and the Curriculum for Agricultural Science Education (CASE) Initiative by $50,000 after bringing together leading educational institutions and organizations to support teachers and students involved in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education. The 12-month process developed a strategic framework to address gaps in teacher professional development and student performance. “CASE provides valuable professional

development for new and seasoned agricultural education teachers and strives to equip teachers to help students enhance their academic performance and educational experience,” Sousa said. Boosting academic performance is critical, Sousa said, because “the need for inspiring, identifying and nurturing young people to pursue an education and career in STEM fields is critical.” “We actively support educational institutions, programming, and community activities that serve to identify, nurture and provide incentives in the development of tomorrow’s scientists, technicians, engineers and mathematicians,” Sousa said. That makes FFA, and its 557,000+ members nationwide, a perfect fit thanks to the nearly 300 careers in agriculture and numerous post-secondary education offerings available to its members.

Blue Jackets. Bright Futures!  B  lue Jackets. Bright Futures” is a bi-annual newsletter published by the National FFA Foundation, which builds partnerships with industry, education, government, other foundations and individuals to secure financial resources to fund FFA activities, recognize member achievements, develop student leaders and support the future of agricultural education. Todd Greenwood Director, Corporate Contributions 317-802-4361

Ryan Gallagher Director, Individual Giving and Major Gifts

Blue Jackets. Bright Futures  

Blue Jackets. Bright Futures

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