When it comes to sustainability in agriculture, the most precious natural resource for the industry to preserve is our young people, and the GROWMARK System and FS member cooperatives are all about that.
GROWMARK has a long history of making a significant investment in youth, from helping to fund Ag in the Classroom, to supporting FFA and 4-H, to a world-class internship program. “Today’s young people are going to be the consumers of tomorrow using the products and services that our customers produce,” said Karen Jones, GROWMARK Youth and Cooperative Education Specialist. “They’re also hopefully going to be some of our future employees and we’d like them to have a strong understanding of agriculture and of cooperatives.”
Among the many ways GROWMARK supports youth is through its annual essay contest for FFA members in Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, and now Missouri. Jones says 2016 was the 23rd year for the contest and this year’s theme was sustainability. “We got some good definitions of what students feel sustainability means,” said Jones. “We also asked them to offer suggestions of what they can do to be more sustainable themselves or encourage their families and others to be more sustainable.”
A newer initiative GROWMARK has developed for even younger people is a pollinator garden program through 4-H to promote the sustainability of bees and other important pollinators. “We have a proprietary wildflower seed blend available through our FS member cooperatives and we are providing some of that seed to 4-H clubs who signed up for the program to plant a garden in their community,” Jones explained.
Learn more about GROWMARK youth programs in this interview: Interview with Karen Jones, GROWMARK