FFA Scholarship Dinner raises $18,000


Jackson County’s FFA advisers needed donors to step up to get a new scholarship fund going.

So far, so good.

During the inaugural Jackson County FFA Scholarship Dinner on April 2 at the Seymour Ag-Science and Research Farm, nearly $18,000 was raised. Earlier this week another $1,800 was donated.

Once the $25,000 mark is reached, that money will sit idle at the Community Foundation of Jackson County for 365 days. Then a committee will determine how many scholarships can be awarded to members of the Brownstown Central, Crothersville, Medora, Seymour and Trinity Lutheran FFA chapters.

“We’re hoping that we’ll be able to hit that $25,000 in the next couple weeks,” said Linda Myers, the agriculture teacher and FFA adviser at Crothersville Junior-Senior High School. “We’re hoping that after they see that we’re so close, there are still going to be companies out there or individuals that say, ‘Well, I can help that because I was either in FFA or understand the priorities of the organization and why we’re doing it.’”

Donations may be made in person, online or via mail through the Community Foundation or sent to one of the schools.

Myers said 176 people attended the scholarship dinner. Most of them were FFA alumni or community supporters involved in agriculture.

“First of all, since we haven’t been able to have any activities for the last two years (due to the COVID-19 pandemic), it was just super good to see all of the people and to be able to socialize and talk about things that we missed,” Myers said. “That was probably one of the biggest things. It was just good to see everybody.”

It also was great to see the financial support, she said.

“For these same people that donate to so many different organizations still come out to support a brand-new venture, I don’t know what else to say except just overwhelming,” Myers said.

Blake Hackman, the ag teacher and FFA adviser at Brownstown Central High School, said he was amazed but not surprised by all of the support from the agricultural community.

“No matter what it is, I always enjoy being in a room filled with people from an agriculture background. It’s comfortable,” he said.

Jeanna Eppley, an ag teacher and FFA adviser at Seymour High School, said she enjoyed seeing everyone come out to support students.

“We had people having a great time, fantastic food from Meat the Robinsons and lots of laughs and meaningful reflection brought on through our entertainment and guest speakers,” she said.

“It was heartwarming to hear the totals increasing over the night and hearing from others who wish to make donations in the future,” she said. “We are proud to be part of a community which supports our agriculture programs and our students the way that was proven Saturday night.”

During the event, Dan Davis, president and chief executive officer of the Community Foundation, explained the scholarship endowment and the committee’s goals. Being endowed means scholarship dollars will be paid out annually forever.

Also, Indiana FFA officers Kourtney Otte (president from Seymour) and Abby Stuckwisch (southern region vice president from Brownstown) spoke about the need for local support of the scholarship, and Crothersville FFA alum, former Indiana FFA president and national officer and professional speaker Scott McKain shared a video message.

“The girls both spoke mainly on the importance of FFA, and not necessarily an agriculture aspect of it but the fun part of it and leadership components all involved with FFA. They did a really good job intermingling with the crowd and keeping things upbeat,” Myers said.

McKain’s message was you don’t have to be going into agriculture to get out of FFA all that it has to offer, Myers said.

“He is a big-time speaker in public speaking. He got his start because of FFA, so we’re trying to have people understand that there are FFA members who graduate from high school that are not going into ag,” she said. “As an ag teacher, I want to be able to give them the opportunity to fill out a scholarship through FFA because of the leadership abilities that they’ve learned. That’s the main thing.”

Hackman and Myers both said this scholarship fund is something they have wanted to do for a long time.

In February, they met with Davis to get the scholarship endowment fund established. Then the scholarship dinner was set to kick-start the funding.

“My hope is that the scholarship will not only help students/members financially but that it will also recognize them for their efforts in FFA and let them know that they have achieved well,” Hackman said.

Eppley said she looks forward to giving out multiple scholarships each year in the future.

“I want to see this scholarship grow over the years so we can support multiple students through a renewable scholarship,” she said. “Giving four to five scholarships a year would be amazing.”

The plan is to have annual events, including the scholarship dinner, to raise money for the fund.

“I want everyone to know we welcome alumni and supporter involvement any time throughout the year,” Eppley said. “We have many different activities, contests and career-oriented events, which benefit from the help of community support. If there is anyone that would like to donate and/or get on the mailing list for the next event, please feel free to reach out to any of the agriculture teachers at any of our high schools.”

At a glance 

To donate to the Jackson County FFA Scholarship Fund, stop by the Community Foundation of Jackson County, 107 Community Drive, Seymour, mail it to P.O. Box 1231, Seymour, IN 47274 or visit cfjacksoncounty.org. Cash, check, Gift of Grain or some other means may be dropped off at the office. Make checks payable to Jackson County FFA.

Donations also may be sent to the FFA advisers at Brownstown Central High School, Crothersville Junior-Senior High School, Medora Junior-Senior High School, Seymour High School or Trinity Lutheran High School.

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