Microsoft Corp. has donated nearly $1.9 million of software, training and support to the National FFA Organization for the creation of a new online network to help students track educational successes, pursue awards and scholarships and ultimately obtain careers in the agriculture industry.
The Agricultural Career Network will be an online portal that students can use starting in middle school, through college and beyond to track their educational accomplishments, activities and awards. It will also allow students to build resumes and online portfolios, apply for awards and scholarships, prepare for college, pursue internships, connect with potential employers and pursue employment opportunities.
Agriculture teachers will also be able to manage FFA member information in the network, which will provide key data for Perkins plans and reports, produce local impact reports for advocacy efforts, compile information about available grant and scholarship applications and create tools that teachers can use to gauge the relevance and successes of their individual agricultural education curricula.
Microsoft’s donation to FFA includes SharePoint 2010, SQL Server 2008 R2 and additional products.
“Microsoft’s generosity and support gives us the utmost confidence that the Agricultural Career Network will deliver world-class service to FFA members, their teachers and FFA alumni to help them efficiently and professionally document their educational and career progress and achievements,” says Mark Cavell, chief technical officer at the National FFA Organization. “We envision the network will be a powerful resource that students can use now and well into their futures as agriculture-industry leaders.”
The initial focus of the Agricultural Career Network will be to improve the quality, service and impact of FFA. Data collected through the network will help document the impact and relevance of FFA and agriculture curricula, drive FFA programming and build a growing base of support for agricultural education.
“We applaud FFA for its launch of the Agricultural Career Network” says Staci Trackey Meagher, general manager for Microsoft’s Midwest District. “Microsoft has long believed that inside each and every person there is great potential. To continue increasing digital inclusion, we are committed to providing technology, tools and resources to these organizations and are honored we can assist the FFA with this key initiative.”
The Agriculture Career Network will roll out in phases, with the first phase being made available to FFA members and agriculture teachers this fall. Over the next two years, the network will expand, featuring additional tools and features.