Starting August 1, local farmers have a chance to nominate students going into agriculture, non-profits, and public schools that benefit the farming communities. The America’s Farmers Program was started in 2010 by Monsanto. The non-profit wanted to be more purposeful with the money they gave away, so they did focus group research with farmers and found the three most important areas to farmers: youth, education, and non-profits/charities.

The Grow Ag Leaders program gives scholarships to students studying Agriculture. The USDA reports that 54,000 agriculture jobs are going unfilled each year. One of the problems is a lack of awareness. The jobs span a wide spectrum of fields, not just physical soil. Jobs include IT and software development, sales, biology, research, food science, food processing, and economics. The scholarships are attainable, not super selective. The FFA manages the list of criteria to help select winners.

The Grow Rural Education program has farmers nominate public schools. The schools then apply to compete for a grants of $10,000 or $25,000 to enhance their STEM curriculum. A group of teachers review the grant list and select finalists. A farmer’s council selects the winners.

The Grow Communities program gives farmers a chance to direct a $2500 grant to their favorite eligible non-profit. The winners are selected in a random drawing. The benefit to having farmers nominate candidates is they know which organizations will make the biggest impact. Past winners include fire departments, food banks, and youth programs like FFA.

Participating in each of the America’s Farmers programs is simple. By visiting the America’s Farmers website, farmers can make a meaningful difference in their communities. A complete list of program rules, eligibility requirements and information on the programs is available on the website. “Farming families and communities have a history of giving back and pitching in, and they are incredibly proactive,” said Al Mitchell, Monsanto Fund President.

“America’s Farmers recognizes this dedication and understands that by partnering with farmers we are making a meaningful difference across the country.”

To date, the fund has given away $48 million, each year it gives around $6 million. $2.3 million has gone to Minnesota winners.

This year’s winners include:

•Anna McCosh won a $1500 Grow Ag Leaders scholarship.

•The Cottonwood Ambulance Service won $2500.

•The Tracy Area Education Foundation won $2500

•The Buffalo Lake Fire Department won $2500.

•MACCRAY West Elementary won $2500.

•The Neighbors United Resource Center won $2500.