On March 23, Jennifer Campbell attended her local Ag Day program in Johnson County, and came away with a check. Actually it was a huge, over-sized check presented to her on behalf of Monsanto Fund, set up by the Monsanto Company. The large check celebrated the fact that she was selected as a winner in the inaugural year of this program.
The other unique thing is that the check wasn't made out to her. Instead, it was made out to the local community foundation. Campbell, a farmwife, was instrumental in starting an agriculture endowment that's housed in the local community foundation. With more than $10,000 already raised, the new check means that there will be more support for local activities related to agriculture in the area.
The new ag fund in Johnson County grew out of Campbell's involvement in a leadership program, Leadership Johnson County, a year ago. She was a member of a committee that decided to take on establishing the fund as a project. Many of the donations came through the corn hopper program last fall, where farmers donated a hopper or part of a hopper of grain to the fund. The program was used successfully in Jay County to start an ag endowment fund there several years ago.
Receiving the award from Monsanto was icing on the cake, Campbell says. She and her husband, Chris, operate a farm and hog operation, and raise three children on their farm in the rural part of Johnson County. A steering committee that grew out of the original leadership project will determine how the money is used. Plans call for maintaining a balance of $5,000 in the fund and continuing to replenish it after money is disbursed for worthy caused related to agriculture.
Here's how the Monsanto Fund program works. Farmers or their spouses enter the program to be considered for a $2,500 grant. If selected, the grant is awarded to a charitable or non-profit organization of the winner's choosing. The program is called America's Farmers Grow Communities.
Several other winners were announced in Indiana through the program. Nationwide, 1,200 farmers in 38 states were selected to pass along the grant to the charter of their choice, the Monsanto Fund reports. The three most selected non-profit groups to receive the money were 4-H, FFA and local fire departments. Some 50,000 farmers entered the program.
Monsanto Fund has announced that a new round of funding begins in August 2011, marking the second full year of the program. Abut $3 million was donated during this round. The amount of award is expected to be similar during the second round. Learn more at: www.growcommunities.org.