In 2008 agriculture leaders in Decatur County looked for an alternative to the traditional ag day in March. A long story short, which was later documented in 2009 in Indiana Prairie Farmer, they started an ag fund within the Decatur County Community Foundation. They held a breakfast the first year, and starting with seed money from the breakfast and donations, started building the fund.
A big part of the program is asking local farmers to donate a row of corn, or whatever amount they like, and put those proceeds into the fund as a donation. They can also just write a check for the fund. In four years it has grown to a principal of $85,000.
The ag breakfast that helps fund the event was held recently in conjunction with Power of the Past, a reunion of old farm equipment held at the Decatur County Fairgrounds each year. Some 350 people attended, with proceeds benefitting the ag fund.
So far the fund has been used for various purposes. All three FFA chapters in the county have benefitted from it. The three chapters are North Decatur, South Decatur and Greensburg. Each chapter typically gets a grant in one year, and if another chapter has a worthy cause, they are in line the following year.
This year North Decatur received the grant, taken from interest produced by the balance of the fund. Ag teacher Scott Johnson says they've used the funds to buy teaching kits that teach kids about everything from soils to crops to dairy foods. The money allows them to buy up-to-date reference and teaching materials that also help the students prepare for contests in these areas. All three chapters are successful in their own ways, and are competitive at contests. The fund is helping them gain resources that make teaching more effective.