MT. ANGEL, Ore., May 13, 2019 – Wilco, an agricultural cooperative serving farmers and customers in Oregon and Washington, announced that it has donated more than $1 million to the FFA organizations in the two states it serves through its FFA Forever campaign, launched in 2011.
The funds represent donations from the cooperative, its employees, its customers and its vendors, garnered through the campaign’s multiple annual initiatives:
- Silent Auction at the co-op’s Annual Member Meeting featuring products from vendors and other donations; in 2019, the auction raised $10,000
- Gift card program, through which Wilco coordinates an art contest for FFA students and prints the winning design on store gift cards with 10% of those gift card purchases going to FFA
- FFA Month in August, when vendors donate to receive point-of-purchase advertising in Wilco Stores and offer special promotions such as a donation made for every item purchased
- Cash register donations during FFA Month, when Wilco matches donations made by customers at all of its 20 stores, up to $25,000; in 2018, donations totaled $85,000
- Employee vacation time donation, through which Wilco donates the monetary equivalent to the non-profit of the employee’s choice, many of whom choose FFA; in 2018, this FFA donation was nearly $12,000
“We’ve really looked for creative ways to engage and energize people to donate to the FFA cause, so that everyone can participate in supporting this important youth leadership organization,” said TJ Colson, Wilco’s Director of Store Operations who also sits on the Oregon FFA Foundation board. “We recognize that FFA is grooming our future farmers, customers, employees and voters, so we want to do all we can to contribute to their personal and professional development.”
The majority of the money raised and donated by Wilco is delivered to the state organizations at their annual conventions, where Wilco also exhibits. In March 2019, for example, Wilco presented a check for $135,000 to Oregon FFA as its Platinum level sponsor. Many funds are earmarked for distribution to individual chapters via grants, applications for which are reviewed by a Wilco employee Grant Funding Board.
“We focus on funding projects that help sustain the chapters long term, projects that reach as many students as possible like building a green house or revitalizing a chapter land lab,” said Nicole Anderson, Wilco Marketing and Communications Manager who sits on the Grant Funding Board and coordinates many of the FFA Forever campaign activities.
Employee participation in FFA Forever has been comprehensive, with all of the cooperative’s 900 employees participating.
“Our team is an engaged group, and many of them were involved in FFA as students themselves, or have children involved now,” said Anderson. “They recognize the value FFA delivers to the individual student participants as well as the broader community and the future of agriculture, and they’re excited each year about our activities.”
Wilco’s support for FFA extends beyond financial donations: the cooperative allows local FFA chapters to hold fundraising events at their stores, participates in the annual Food Drive in conjunction with Les Schwab Tires, and discounts supplies purchased by FFA chapters, delivering additional financial value.
“It’s a great privilege and honor to work for a company that believes so deeply in its values that it is willing to commit to this level of community support, which is a central tenet of Wilco as a cooperative,” said Colson.