Context is pleased to announce its commitment and new partnership with the National FFA Foundation to support agricultural education opportunities for young people in the U.S.
“We’re very excited about The Context Network joining us as a sponsor,” says Mark Poeschl, chief executive officer of the National FFA organization and the National FFA Foundation. Poeschl sees strong parallels between the work of Context and the mission of FFA, formerly known as Future Farmers of America. He notes: “Context is shaping the model for 21st century agriculture by helping companies think strategically and plan for the future, while FFA is preparing students to be engaged in 21st century agriculture. This is how we make the connection between young people and real life.”
Specifically, Context’s partnership will focus on supporting three key programs that deliver opportunities for members and expand recognition of FFA as a premier agriculture education resource. Context will sponsor the National FFA Marketing Plan Career Development Event, a competitive activity in which student teams from across the country write a marketing plan for an actual agricultural product, supply, or service in their community. “We’re excited about sponsoring this event because it’s at the heart of the work we do every day,” says Context Principal Mark Nelson. “Beyond our sponsorship, we will earnestly extend our support at all levels, including coaching and mentoring students in local chapters and serving as judges at state events, as well the national competition.”
Furthermore, Context will join the National FFA Sponsors’ Board, a cohort of corporate executives who leverage their industry relationships to assist the National FFA Foundation in raising funds. Context Principal Doug Griffin, who will serve on the board, recalls his time as president of his local FFA chapter as being instrumental in shaping his leadership abilities. He says, “There are very few, if any, organizations that develop young men and women the way that FFA does. I’m honored to give back to an organization that’s given me and my colleagues so much.” In addition, Context is co-sponsoring the convention’s Sponsors Recognition Dinner, an appreciation event that honors more than 600 sponsors and donors.
Since its founding by 33 farmers in 1928, FFA has grown far beyond its initial purpose of preparing young people to work in production agriculture. The organization now blends classroom instruction, leadership development, and hands-on work experience to expose young members to a wide range of career possibilities. The need for new talent across fields ranging from agribusiness, animal science, biotechnology, environmental science, food science and production, natural resources, plant science, mechanics, and more is pressing. Poeschl points to a 2015 Purdue University study indicating that 23,000-25,000 jobs directly related to agriculture currently go unfilled each year.
While the partnership marks a new level of commitment from Context as a whole, many individuals within Context have formative ties to FFA. Senior Business Analysts Jason Troendle and Seth Pratt held national offices with FFA during their college years. Both men recall the “sea of blue” at National FFA Convention & Expo, where more than 64,000 attendees gather each year with students donning the blue corduroy jackets that are the hallmark of FFA. Pratt says, “I wouldn’t be the same person without FFA. I started out as a Western boy who knew about one farm in one place. FFA broadened my perspective and allowed me to understand my farm within the context of agriculture across the country. I carry that understanding of the national agricultural economy into my work every day.” Having grown up one generation removed from his grandparents’ farm, Troendle credits his local FFA chapter for instilling his passion for agricultural economics. He says, “Without FFA, there’s a decent chance I wouldn’t be working in agribusiness.”
Poeschl says he looks forward to seeing Context principals, associates and analysts amid the “sea of blue” at the 90th National FFA Convention October 25-28, 2017, in Indianapolis. He says, “It makes a big difference when organizations like Context feel strongly enough about our work to financially support us.” Context’s commitment to FFA is meaningful to many in the network too. Troendle says, “Having joined Context recently, I’m excited that we have principals who are passionate about the same thing I am and who see the value in developing leadership in young people.”
To discuss the possibility of joining Context in its support of the National FFA Foundation, contact Doug Griffin at firstname.lastname@example.org or 678.772.1077.
The National FFA Organization is a national youth organization of 649,355 student members as part of 7,859 local FFA chapters in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The organization is supported by 225,891 alumni members in 1,934 local FFA Alumni chapters throughout the U.S. The FFA mission is to make a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education. The National FFA Foundation builds partnerships with industry, education, government, other foundations and individuals to secure financial resources that recognize FFA member achievements, develop student leaders and support the future of agricultural education.