Ankeny, Iowa – An innovative program launched today by the Iowa Food & Family Project (Iowa FFP) with sponsorship from Pioneer Hi-Bred, a DuPont business, will spur greater awareness and interest in agricultural and life sciences careers, benefitting Iowa’s families, communities, employers and environment.

The FFA “Planting A Seed” Grant Program, coordinated by the Iowa FFA Foundation, will also promote the state’s agricultural leadership and the commitment of today’s farms to providing healthy and wholesome food for everyone using less land, water and energy.

“Meeting the challenge of doubling agricultural productivity by 2050 is dependent on the next generation of young talent with an interest and understanding of agriculture,” says Todd Frazier, Pioneer business director.  “Our sponsorship of ‘Planting A Seed’ will cultivate the next generation of agronomists, researchers and scientists that will help Iowa and America’s farmers do more with every kernel of seed and pound of feed.”

FFA chapters can apply by Dec. 30 for one of five $1,500 grants to conduct programs that stimulate interest among K-12 students in agricultural careers and emphasize the role science and technology play in providing wholesome food using less land and fewer inputs. Eligible activities include career fairs, tours of local ag production or renewable fuels facilities, class assemblies and creating innovative and engaging displays that promote the fields of opportunity available in agriculture.

Grant recipients, to be named Jan. 19, 2012, will conduct activities Jan. 30-March 23 and communicate their efforts using online media and deliver presentations to local civic and community organizations to enhance program outreach.

“Planting A Seed” grant recipients will be recognized in April at the 2012 Iowa FFA State Leadership Conference in Ames. One chapter determined to have conducted the most innovative and successful activity will be presented a $1,500 Award of Excellence to be used for general chapter activities.

Aaron Putze, director of external relations for the Iowa Soybean Association and Iowa FFP coordinator, says that although the world population has doubled in the past 40 years, the amount of land devoted to growing food has remained nearly unchanged. 

“This trend is likely to intensify,” Putze says. “Therefore, today’s youth will be called upon to develop tomorrow’s breakthroughs allowing farmers to provide more high-quality food using less land, water and energy. FFA members will be crucial to achieving these improvements while sparking interest among their peers in pursuing agricultural careers.”

Iowa is the perfect place to conduct the “Planting A Seed” grant program, says Iowa FFA Foundation Executive Director Joshua Remington.

“Our state is home to nearly one-fourth of the world’s richest farm ground, some of the most dynamic ag companies and active FFA chapters eager to engage the next generation of agriculturalists,” he says. “We’re pleased to be a partner in this innovative effort and encourage FFA chapters to participate in this tremendous learning opportunity.” 

The Iowa Food & Family Project(www.iowafoodandfamily.com) inspires greater awareness and trust between farmers and consumers through advocacy and personal engagement to the benefit of human vitality, environmental quality and economic prosperity. It was launched by the Iowa Soybean Association in April and involves more than 25 commodity organizations, retailers and food relief organization.

Pioneer Hi-Bred, a DuPont business headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa, is the world’s leading developer and supplier of advanced plant genetics, providing high-quality seeds to farmers in more than 90 countries. Pioneer provides agronomic support and services to help increase farmer productivity and profitability and strives to develop sustainable agricultural systems for people everywhere. Science with Service Delivering Success™.

DuPont(NYSE: DD) has been bringing world-class science and engineering to the global marketplace in the form of innovative products, materials, and services since 1802. The company believes that by collaborating with customers, governments, NGOs, and thought leaders, we can help find solutions to such global challenges as providing enough healthy food for people everywhere, decreasing dependence on fossil fuels, and protecting life and the environment. For additional information about DuPont and its commitment to inclusive innovation, visit www.dupont.com.

The Iowa FFA Foundation(www.iowaffafoundation.org) builds partnerships with individuals and businesses to provide support for agricultural education.  It serves as an advocate to stimulate, promote and strengthen the young people of Iowa, who will ultimately lead the next generation of agriculture, by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success.