BLACKSBURG, Va. — The Agricultural Technology Program at Virginia Tech has received $18,000 from Virginia FFA and the Virginia Produce Company for student scholarships, the first part of a blossoming partnership between the entities.
The scholarships will be given out as $2,000 individual awards to former Virginia FFA members who enroll in the Agricultural Technology Program in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
“Agriculture is Virginia’s largest industry involving practical business and technical skills in the production sector,” said Andy Seibel, the executive secretary of Virginia FFA and a Virginia Cooperative Extension specialist. “We hope that this scholarship will enable ag tech students who were also FFA members to develop leadership and career skills in preparation for entering the agricultural workforce.”
The funds were raised from a portion of the sales of Virginia Produce Company’s sweet corn in a variety of grocery store chains throughout Virginia and North Carolina.
“We are so appreciative of the scholarships provided through Virginia FFA,” said Rachel Kohl, a senior instructor in the Agricultural Technology Program. “Our students are interested in all aspects of agriculture and will use their education to make a difference in Virginia and beyond. I believe that all students should be given every chance to complete their education with as little financial stress as possible. Providing these scholarships will help bright, dedicated students achieve their educational goals and have rewarding careers.”
Joe Guthrie, the commissioner of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and a former instructor in the Agricultural Technology Program, was instrumental in connecting the entities in Virginia.
Moir Beamer, the chief executive officer of Virginia Produce Company, coordinated raising the funds on the company’s side. Beamer set out to not only give back to the organization that gives so much to these future leaders, but to foster a relationship with students wishing to engage in production agriculture. Over the years, several of Virginia Produce Company’s longest-tenured employees are products of FFA.
“With this program, we can have more farmers in Virginia with the fundamentals needed to succeed,” said Beamer, who has a long family history of involvement with FFA. “As a partnership, we can work together to help the kids, the state, and the country.”
–Max Esterhuizen, Virginia Tech