Empowering the Future of Agriculture:
Groundbreaking Partnership to Support Native American Students in Pursuit of Agricultural Education
November 6, 2023
The National FFA Organization established the first-ever partnership with the Native American Agriculture Fund (NAAF) and the Tribal Agriculture Fellowship (TAF) dedicated to supporting Native American students pursuing agricultural careers. Agricultural education plays a pivotal role in preparing the next generation of agricultural leaders for the robust world of agriculture, food, fiber, and natural resources systems.
A school-based youth leadership development organization, FFA strives to make a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth, and career success through agricultural education. FFA has more than 14,000 American Indian and Alaska Native members, and more than 2,400 Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander members.
NAAF is the largest philanthropic organization dedicated to increasing access to capital for Native American producers and advancing agriculture in Indian Country through grants to more than 350 eligible organizations for business assistance, agricultural education, technical support, and advocacy services.
The Tribal Agriculture Fellowship Program is a first-of-its-kind nonprofit institution with the mission of creating opportunities for students pursuing education with the purpose of preserving and promoting the legacy of agriculture in Tribal communities. This fellowship program provides an incredible opportunity for professional development to aid Native students in achieving their educational goals.
"NAAF is observing a significant increase in the enthusiasm of Native youth to further their knowledge and practical experience in agriculture. Regardless of the specific agricultural pursuits that Native students wish to embark upon, our commitment is to furnish them with a comprehensive array of accessible resources, ensuring their path to success. The FFA, renowned for generations as a pinnacle institution that champions education as a cornerstone of agricultural leadership, stands as a valued partner in this endeavor. In collaboration with TAF, an organization singularly devoted to expanding educational opportunities for Native students, our affiliation with the FFA represents a pivotal opportunity. This partnership is aimed at nurturing a cadre of Native agriculture professionals, well-equipped to confront the unique challenges prevalent in Indian Country. This MOU is monumental, as FFA continues to advance diversity and inclusion in their organization, we look forward to working alongside them and TAF to encourage premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agriculture education,” said Toni Stanger-McLaughlin, CEO of NAAF.
“One of our goals at the National FFA Organization is to partner with like-minded organizations to expand our collective impact on agriculture, food and natural resources, especially with underrepresented and marginalized populations,” said Scott Stump, CEO of the National FFA Organization. “This partnership with NAAF and TAF will be a catalyst for advancing our shared goals.”
“We are incredibly excited and looking forward to formally establishing this partnership between TAF, NAAF, and FFA. The Tribal Agriculture Fellowship aims to continuously provide an Indigenous perspective regarding the involvement of Native youth in agriculture,” said Nicole DeVon, Executive Director of TAF.
About National FFA Organization
The National FFA Organization is a school-based national youth leadership development organization of more than 945,000 student members as part of 9,163 local FFA chapters in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The FFA mission is to make a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education. For more, visit the National FFA Organization online at FFA.org and on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.
About National FFA Foundation
The National FFA Foundation builds partnerships with industry, education, government, other foundations and individuals to secure financial resources that recognize FFA member achievements, develop student leaders and support the future of agricultural education. A separately registered nonprofit organization, the foundation is governed by a board of trustees that includes the national FFA president, educators, business leaders and individual donors. For more, visit FFA.org/Give.
About the Native American Agriculture Fund:
The Native American Agriculture Fund (NAAF) provides grants to eligible organizations for business assistance, agricultural education, technical support, and advocacy services to support Native farmers and ranchers. The charitable trust was created by the settlement of the landmark Keepseagle v. Vilsack class-action lawsuit. NAAF is the largest philanthropic organization devoted solely to serving the Native American farming and ranching community.
About the Native Agriculture Education Fellowship Program:
The Native Agriculture Education Fellowship Program (NAEFP) awards fellowships to Native American, Alaska Native, and Native Hawai’ian students pursuing technical, undergraduate, and graduate degrees in agriculture to strengthen the flow of Indigenous professionals into tribal agriculture. The Tribal Agriculture Fellowship is sponsored by leading Native agriculture industry groups, including the Native American Agriculture Fund, Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research, Farmer Mac, John Deere, and Farm Credit.