RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina 4-H and North Carolina FFA each received a $45,000 gift to further their mission of developing future leaders in a presentation Feb. 2 at the Southern Farm Show in Raleigh.
The money, presented in the form of a $90,000 check to be shared equally between the two organizations, is the proceeds from Pull for Youth fundraisers organized by AgCarolina Farm Credit and AgSouth Farm Credit. NC State University faculty and staff coordinate programming for each entity.
“We understand the importance of keeping young people engaged in agriculture, and 4-H and FFA are great vehicles to do that,” said Vance Dalton, president and chief executive officer of AgSouth Farm Credit. “We want to support their efforts so that we can keep young people wanting to come back to farming and to our rural communities where they can live and thrive. The other piece is the leadership skills they learn. Agriculture needs a voice, and the leaders that will carry that voice are being trained now through FFA and 4-H. By investing in them, we’re investing in agriculture and investing in our future.”
Farm Credit Associations of North Carolina inaugurated the Pull for Youth fundraisers six years ago. Participants enjoy a day of shooting sporting clays while contributing to the future of agriculture in North Carolina.
“I’m so appreciative of the people who invest in our youth and the future generation,” said Garey Fox, dean of NC State’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS). “The investment in youth, the investment in our 4-H and our FFA leaders, is so important. Agriculture is the No. 1 industry in the state of North Carolina. Students want to go into areas where they’re going to be able to make an impact on society. When you look at the need to feed a growing population in North Carolina, agriculture is a career where they can know the impact that they’re having.”
North Carolina 4-H was represented by state president Jo Sundbom from Edgecombe County; member engagement officer Emma Haynes, who lives in Granville County and participates in 4-H in Franklin County; and state reporter Jacob Hanlon from Burke County.
“It means a lot,” said Haynes, who plans to pursue a degree and career in animal science. “Without donor support, we wouldn’t be able to go to events, we wouldn’t be able to grow as leaders. So it’s really beneficial.”
North Carolina FFA was represented by state president Madaline Chandler and vice presidents Sydney Whichard and Hailey Eason. Whichard and Eason are currently CALS students studying agricultural education.
“I think I can speak for FFA and 4-H that we would not be as successful as we are if it wasn’t for the support of partners like Farm Credit,” said Joshua Bledsoe, state agricultural education leader and FFA advisor. “Our job ultimately is to provide life-changing experiences that connect young people to careers in agriculture and Farm Credit helps us do that. Not only do they give financial aid to help us support our mission, they also are involved in a lot of our events. They serve as judges and volunteers. It’s a great partnership that we have with them.”
North Carolina 4-H, coordinated by NC State Extension, serves nearly 200,000 youth in all 100 counties across North Carolina and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians for youth between the ages of 5-19. Activities include community and project clubs, special interest programs, school enrichment programs and afterschool programs.
“It really helps with the types of programs we can offer, and the number of programs,” said Mike Yoder, 4-H state program leader. “This has been a great partnership. We certainly appreciate all they have done for 4-H.”
North Carolina FFA is made up of 338 chapters and more than 30,000 students from middle school to high school across the state. FFA prepares members for leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education.
Funds from the Pull for Youth events are being used for a new cottage at the North Carolina FFA Center at White Lake in Bladen County.
–Simon Gonzalez, N.C. State University