MFA Foundation scholarships are a down payment on legacy
Over the summer months, I had the opportunity to spend time with college students who plan a career in agriculture. The experience pushed me into that philosophical state of mind in which we find ourselves when our own youth is shrinking to a speck on the horizon behind us.
To the middle-aged and older, youth is bittersweet. It represents promise and hope, but ours is already spent. Maybe we’ve cashed in on some of that promise through great accomplishments. Or, maybe we’ve come up short in some of our hopes. Either way, you can’t do much better to get perspective on your life and career in agriculture than by spending time with young adults full of ambition and energy—and a love for agriculture.
What legacy have you left for agriculture? What have those of us who toil in support of farmers left behind? Our own hard work, for sure, but that’s dust soon enough. Our lasting legacy is in how we prepare the next generation to bring their outlook, energy and talents to agriculture.
That’s why the September issue of Today’s Farmer is special for all of us here at MFA and for so many proud parents of students who have just started their college career. Beginning on page 14 in this issue, we recognize some 329 MFA Foundation scholarship winners who in a few short years will roll into the workforce, many of them returning to their roots through jobs in agriculture, our rural communities and commitments to the family farm.
The MFA Foundation was established in 1958 through a $28,000 contribution from the late Robert O. Wurmb of St. Clair, Mo. It was his entire estate, and the start of a great legacy.
Adjusted for inflation, that sum equals nearly a quarter of a million of today’s dollars.
The MFA Foundation began offering scholarships in 1965, establishing the tradition that scholarships given in rural communities be funded from the foundation along with contributions from local MFA Agri Services Centers, MFA Oil Company entities or other local MFA agencies.
Back in 1965, scholarship recipients received $200 to be paid to the accredited college of the student’s choice. But $200 won’t go far at the modern college or university. Today, most students receive $2,000, with this year’s total in awarded scholarships exceeding $660,000.
Since the MFA Foundation scholarships were established, some $14 million has been given to college-bound youth in MFA’s trade territory.
Of course, not all of these students return to agriculture, but we live in an age when mere connectedness to rural culture and agriculture is important to the future of farming. One thing I saw from the youth I visited with this summer is that they well understand that their inexperience can’t be an excuse for complacency. They are prepared for the challenges ahead. And if we’ve helped them in that preparation, our legacy is secure.
Contributions to the MFA Foundation are tax deductible. To contribute to the MFA Foundation or to receive more information, write:
201 Ray Young Drive
Columbia, MO 65201
Welcome Austin Black
While on the topic of energy and a love for agriculture, it’s my pleasure to introduce Austin Black, the new photojournalist for Today’s Farmer and MFA Incorporated.
Austin is from Deepwater, Mo., where he grew up on a cow/calf operation. Black graduated from College of the Ozarks in 2011 with a degree in Agricultural Business and Animal Science.
Prior to joining Today’s Farmer, Black launched a video production company specializing in filming wildlife hunts and has recently renewed his video efforts on promoting agriculture. His talents are already appreciated here, and you’ll be seeing more of his work in coming issues.
Fashing heads New Media
While we know he will never truly put down the camera, our previous photojournalist, James Fashing, has been promoted to New Media editor at MFA Incorporated.
In his new position, Fashing will oversee strategic development of MFA’s digital communications, including the cooperative’s various websites and expansion of social media presence.
Fashing was instrumental in building www.todaysfarmer.com and is hard at work developing a mobile version of that site as well as customization of individual MFA Agri Services sites and www.mfa-inc.com.
Watch this space—you’ll hear more about some of Fashing’s efforts as we roll out improvements and new projects in coming months.