As the pressure on natural resources increases from feeding, fueling and clothing a growing global population, the ag industry needs a stronger chorus of voices to tell its story effectively. With support from Syngenta and other sponsors, the National FFA Organization (FFA) has developed the National Collegiate Agriculture Ambassadors program to help meet this challenge.
"The FFA Ag Ambassador program helps educate a broad audience on food production," says J.R. Peterson, district manager at Syngenta. "It is critical that our best and brightest young people can effectively communicate the importance of agriculture in public settings."
Each year, 20 college students from across the country are selected to participate in the program. These Ag Ambassadors serve for one year, speaking at local schools, colleges, FFA chapters, civic organizations and Farm Bureau groups about the importance of sustainable ag in their communities. In return, they receive a $1,000 scholarship, a digital camera, the use of an LCD projector and compensation for travel.
Applications must be completed by April 15
Applications for the 2014-2015 Collegiate FFA Agriculture Ambassador team are now available. College sophomores, juniors, seniors or graduate students pursuing agricultural degrees can apply for the program. All ambassadors must be former FFA members, current collegiate FFA members or members of the National FFA Alumni Association.
Applicants must submit a video presentation of themselves to showcase facilitation skills. They also must answer essay questions and provide references by the April 15, 2014, entry deadline. Selected ambassadors will attend two training sessions: The first is August 4 to 8, 2014, in North Carolina, where they will spend part of the week at the Syngenta facility in Greensboro. The second will take place in December 2014.
"Our goal is to grow these students personally and professionally through their experience as ambassadors," says Ryan Amaral, an FFA education specialist. "Throughout their year of service, students are learning more about agriculture, building a strong network of peer and professional contacts in the industry, and telling the inspirational story of agriculture."
The 2013/2014 Ag Ambassador team, which is featured on the Syngenta Thrive website, is currently hard at work helping to promote the industry. Sam Tauchen, a senior at the University of Wisconsin–River Falls, says, "When I share my story of agriculture, I realize what I am doing is bigger than myself. The program has been a blessing, and I am honored to join a group of people who are committed to improving the future of agriculture."