Farm Journal Foundation advocates for modern agriculture’s role in feeding the hungry
Six years ago, Farm Journal established its namesake charity, the Farm Journal Foundation. The 501(c)3 nonprofit organization is dedicated to protecting agriculture’s ability to feed the world with the use of modern technology. That’s done through engagement, education and advocacy with farmers, policymakers and millennials. The Foundation rallies communities around the fight against world hunger through platforms including HungerU and Farmers Feeding the World.
Beyond donations from Farm Journal, funding for Foundation programs comes from donations from farmers and individuals as well as agribusinesses and philanthropic organizations.
HungerU, the flagship program, is an educational and advocacy program that engages and educates university students on issues related to the role of modern agriculture in feeding the world.
The centerpiece of HungerU is a mobile exhibit that travels to university campuses around the country providing fun, dynamic learning experiences for students. This fall, the tour traveled to National FFA Convention, West Virginia University, University of Tennessee, Marshall University, Wake Forest University, University of Georgia, North Carolina State University, Tuskegee University and Fort Valley University.
The HungerU experience offers various ways for students to engage and learn about hunger and modern agriculture’s role in feeding the world, including: a dynamic mobile exhibit, interactive HungerU Challenge web app, classroom engagements and campus-level volunteer “Meet Ups!”. The diversity of HungerU engagement opportunities means students are able to personalize their learning journey, and many choose to become part of the HungerU social media and advocacy community.
New for the Fall 2016 Tour was HungerU in the Classroom, a guest lecture series that deepens the dialogue about global food and agriculture systems. The HungerU team invites farmers and subject matter experts to share their knowledge with university students and engage them in roundtable discussions.
Overall highlights from the 2016 Fall Tour, which ended right before Thanksgiving, include:
- 20,000 people engaged during the four-week tour
- 4,000 meals donated to feed hungry people
- 2,000 university students learned with HungerU in the Classroom
- 1,700 letters sent by students to Capitol Hill, supporting agriculture’s role in feeding the world
- 1,500 students participated in community service projects related to fighting hunger
Farmers Feeding the World is a leadership development and advocacy platform engaging U.S. farmers. Within the framework of the program, best-in-class farmers from across the U.S. tell the story of agriculture, connecting diverse stakeholders to the role of modern agriculture in feeding the world.
The Farm Team is comprised of more than 50 elite U.S. farmers representing 16 states: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota and Texas. These leaders provide educational outreach to federal policymakers, the broader agricultural sector and grasstop stakeholder groups.
On the national level, farmers in the program have held face-to-face meetings with more than 200 national-level policymakers in the past two and a half years. Through consistent engagement on Capitol Hill, farmers and policymakers engage in an ongoing dialogue about the central role of and tools necessary for U.S. agriculture to assume leadership in achieving global food and nutritional security.
In their home states, the lead farmer invites other producers to form Home State Teams. These state-level teams execute grasstop advocacy and educational events. The Home State activities vary widely from state-to-state because the farmer-leaders develop tailored outreach plans that leverage the talents of the team and specific opportunities in the states.
Several of the lead farmers on the Farm Team hosted impressive home state outreach events and activities in 2016. Those leaders include John Paul Pendergrass, Vanessa Kummer, Karolyn Zurn, Danny Murphy, Jim and D’Neill Rexroth, Jesse Larios and Annie Dee. Watch for coverage of the Farm Team leaders’ 2016 efforts in future issues of Farm Journal.
An authentic voice of farmers, Farm Team members engage in a robust press strategy. That includes placing local editorials timed to coincide with key moments (such as Mother’s Day, Thanksgiving and Earth Day).
Many members are also active on various social media platforms, engaging consumers and folks outside of agriculture. The farmers also take part in HungerU’s campus-level activities several times each semester, leading large-scale events and guest lecturing for HungerU in the Classroom.