Brainerd High School FFA members who hope to start their own agricultural-based small business now have a way to make their dreams come true.
On Monday night, a Nisswa couple donated $10,000 to the Brainerd FFA Alumni Association to start a supervised agricultural experience revolving fund for FFA members.
The fund will provide seed money for FFA students who want to start a profit-making venture, such as raising livestock, growing vegetables or even starting their own lawn service. All funding from this $10,000 donation will be in the form of low-interest loans between the association and the student but the association also will be raising funds to provide grants to students for their SAE project.
Hanspeter and Gisela Borgwarth of Nisswa provided the donation and was to present the check to the Brainerd FFA at its kick-off meeting Monday night at Brainerd High School South Campus. The Borgwarths could not be reached for comment Monday afternoon.
"It's a tremendous opportunity for these students," said Kevin Thesing, president of the Brainerd FFA Alumni Association.
"We're really excited, especially the entrepreneurial side of it," said Denise Reeser, BHS ag instructor. "They're in control of how it works."
FFA members will apply for the funds and those requests will be reviewed by the alumni association's board of directors. Also taken into account will be the student's need, academic performance, ag education enrollment and FFA participation. Students who qualify have to develop a business plan and keep records. They use these projects to compete for proficiency awards at the regional and state FFA competitions in the spring.
"A lot of students get a lot of satisfaction growing their own food and raising livestock," said Reeser. "A lot of projects you don't need a lot of money to start it off. If they have an idea in their head, now they have the money to start them and a lot of these projects turn into businesses for kids after they graduate. It adds money into our local economy."
The SAE program is a hands-on application of concepts and principles learned in Reeser's agriculture education classes at BHS and also ties together nicely with FFA. Students are supervised by Reeser, as well as by their parents, employers and other adults who help them develop and achieve their educational and career goals.
Thesing said that the alumni association provides financial support to the FFA program but this is the first time it's had a SAE revolving fund.
The Brainerd FFA chapter has more than 60 members, Thesing said.
JODIE TWEED may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5858.
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