CORVALLIS, Ore. — The Oregon FFA Foundation has received its largest single donation of $500,000 from Northwest Farm Credit Services to expand agricultural education programs and reach more students statewide.

Foundation President Kirk Maag said the money will be used to seed a new endowment fund called “Oregon FFA Today and Tomorrow,” that will bolster FFA’s leadership and career development opportunities.

“First and foremost, we’re just incredibly thankful,” Maag said. “We want to be deliberate in making sure that we best invest this gift in ways that will provide the biggest benefit to our members over an extended period of time.”

Maag said the Foundation’s Board of Directors will seek input from agriculture teachers and FFA advisers across Oregon to determine priorities for the endowment.

“Our hands aren’t overly tied in how we spend this money,” Maag said. “Northwest Farm Credit Services has placed a lot of trust in the Oregon FFA Board of Directors to work with our team of very talented employees to think of how we can make the biggest impact.”

The Oregon FFA Foundation is the primary source of funding for Oregon FFA and its 11,000 members.

“This endowment will ultimately allow us to reach more students in more communities, and provide expanded opportunities for each of those students,” Maag said.

In a statement, Brent Fetsch, Oregon President of Northwest Farm Credit Services, said he hopes other companies will join in contributing to the new endowment.

“Students who participate in FFA are more likely to graduate from high school, and 93% continue their education beyond high school,” said Fetsch, who also serves as the Oregon FFA Foundation secretary and is a former FFA state officer.

Fetsch said he has heard repeatedly from the bank’s customers and other agribusiness that recruiting talent is a top concern facing the industry.

“The return on investing in Oregon FFA is more young people graduating high school, pursuing further education or training and ultimately taking their place as the next generation of Oregon agriculture and forest product industries,” Fetsch said. “We are grateful for the impactful work Oregon FFA does for over 11,000 students, communities and agriculture.”

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