ST. PAUL, Minn. - Gene Hugoson of St. Paul, Minn., was selected to represent Minnesota on the America's Farmers Grow Rural EducationSM Advisory Council, a board of 26 farmer leaders that determines the rural school district recipients of the America's Farmers Grow Rural Education grants. This two-year assignment allows farmers on the council to help select which school districts are most deserving of $10,000 or $25,000 grants.
"America's farmers have told us that nothing is more important than growing the next generation, so the Monsanto Fund created America's Farmers Grow Rural Education as a way to help farmers improve school districts in their rural communities," said Linda Arnold, Monsanto Customer Advocacy Lead. "We asked these 26 farmer leaders to represent the farmers in their state in the decision of how best to award the grant money."
The America's Farmers Grow Rural Education Advisory Council is made up of farmer leaders from across the country, who are actively engaged in their local communities through various leadership positions, such as a member of the local School Board, an active Farm Bureau leader or a member of an educational organization or committee within various organizations. The council is responsible for reviewing the top grant applications to select the winning school district in each USDA-appointed Crop Reporting District (CRD). These individuals are passionate about both agriculture and education, which is essential when choosing the best grant for each CRD.
"The farmers on the Advisory Council are leaders in their rural communities," said Arnold. "Their passion for both agriculture and education make them well-suited to help us review the grant applications."
Hugoson was chosen for his exemplary experience as a secondary education teacher, in the Minnesota House of Representatives, as the Minnesota Commissioner of Agriculture and working for the University of Minnesota's Global Initiative of Food System Leadership (GIFSL). He cares deeply about the quality of education in his community and is dedicated to helping grow and develop local students. One way to do this is through increasing learning opportunities through additional funding and education projects. Hugoson hopes to make a difference for not only local students, but schools across the state through the advisory council.
"In addition to growing agricultural commodities, America's farmers grow the next generation of young people to fill the inevitable vacancies in the food chain production system," Hugoson said. "It is essential that everything possible is done to help educate this generation to meet that challenge. That is why the Grow Rural Education program can be such a valuable tool in that it can assist a local school system in developing our most important resource--our kids."
America's Farmers Grow Rural Education, sponsored by the Monsanto Fund, is a new program that gives farmers the opportunity to nominate a public school district in their rural community to compete for a grant of either $10,000 or $25,000. The Monsanto Fund will award 199 grants this year. There will be 177 $10,000 grants and 22 grants of $25,000 awarded. Visit growruraleducation.com to see a complete list of eligible states and regions. Grants will be awarded based on merit, need and community support. Overall, the Monsanto Fund will donate more than $2.3 million to school districts in 39 states through this program.
The program was piloted in 165 eligible counties in Minnesota and Illinois, in which more than 11,000 farmers nominated their schools. The Monsanto Fund donated more than $266,000 in total to local school districts in nine CRDs in Illinois and seven CRDs in Minnesota in 2011.
America's Farmers Grow Rural Education is part of a broad commitment by the Monsanto Fund, the philanthropic arm of Monsanto Company, to support farming communities. Visit growruraleducation.com for a complete listing of school districts, counties and more information about America's Farmers Grow Rural Education.