Just when it seemed like budget constraints were going to keep the Hillsboro High School FFA from going to the national FFA convention in Indianapolis, Ind., the group was notified it was selected as the winner of a $2,500 donation through the America?s Farmers Grow Communities project.
In the program, sponsored by the Monsanto Fund, farmers in rural counties in 38 states across the country could sign up for the chance to win $2,500 to donate to their favorite nonprofit.
Hillsboro farming couple Warren and Anita Unruh, alumni of the high school, were drawn as the winners for Marion County. They designated the $2,500 donation to the Hillsboro FFA chapter.
As a bonus, the group got to tour Monsanto?s research and development facility in the St. Louis suburb of Chesterfield. The tour included, among other things, a high-tech slideshow giving an overview of the company, a visit to the greenhouse and an explanation of the research and testing taking place at Monsanto.
?I really think the kids enjoyed the tour of Monsanto,? said Sonya Roberts, chapter adviser. ?It was good for them to learn what Monsanto is all about, and it really opened our eyes to all of the research that?s done before the seeds even go into the ground.
?It probably gave the kids some career options, too.?
The students were not the only ones who benefitted from the experience and realized some new possibilities.
?I?ve always wanted to have a greenhouse at school, but I didn?t think we had the room for it,? Roberts said. ?Now I know I could put one on top of the school, just like they do at Monsanto.?
Ten FFA students were able to attend the convention. They were Kale Arnold, Seth Bartel, Kyler Borg, Lauren Geis, Landon Herbel, Olivia Kliewer, Darren Mueller, Taylor Nikkel, Bryce Roberts and Nathan Unruh, son of the winning farmer who donated the money.
DeLayne Herbel also made the trip as an adult sponsor.
The Hillsboro FFA still has some of the gift money left over and plans to put it to good use.
?I would like to send some of the students to a leadership conference, and I plan on using the rest of the money on that,? Roberts said.
The Monsanto Fund is the philanthropic arm of the Monsanto company. Incorpor?ated in 1964, the fund?s primary objective is to improve the lives of people by bridging the gap between their needs and their resources.