The livestock industry is full of individuals with big hearts! During this time of year, it seems we are all especially looking for ways we can help give back to an industry that means so much to us. If you are looking for some unique ways to offer charitable contributions in the ag industry, here are some of our ideas!
1. Think Local. Supporting organizations in your local community is so rewarding, because you can often see the impact of your donations immediately. Every community is different, but there are tons of different ideas you could start with to help find your perfect charitable organization. Perhaps it is a local ag based non-profit, a local fair scholarship fund, or even your school system. Give a scholarship under your farm name to a local student studying agriculture or setup a scholarship at your school.
2. Go for the Blue and Gold! FFA has helped shape so many lives, and offers lots of great opportunities to donate. The National FFA Foundation helps young people in so many ways, from gifting FFA jackets to those in need, to providing over $2.7 million in scholarships each year. There are many ways to give available here. Many states also have a state FFA foundation also.
3. The Fair is Fair Game! Your local livestock show or county fair is a great place to support local livestock youth. Many sales have a premium auction, where you can purchase the animals shown by the local exhibitors. Your fair is also probably always looking for corporate sponsorships for premiums, educational contests, pageants and more.
4. Don’t forget 4-H – The 4-H program is another great youth organization that benefits youth nationwide. The 4-H Foundation offers a web-based donation portal here. There are also many state 4-H Foundations.
5. Your state commodity organizations – My husband had the honor of participating in the Mississippi Junior Cattlemen’s program – a multi-breed youth association – and it holds some of his fondest memories of his youth. Think of commodity organizations in your state and their programs. These could be state cattlemen’s associations, pork producers, cotton growers, or even wildlife organizations. Many of these programs have youth development programs, workshops, and tours. These are a great way to impact young people who have an interest in diversified agriculture.
6. Breed associations – Similar to commodity organizations, most every breed of livestock has both a national youth organization and state junior breed associations. All of these organizations have events like junior nationals or state field days that are always looking for sponsors and volunteers. Several larger associations also have a stand alone foundation within their breed, like the Angus Foundation or Hereford Youth Foundation. This is a great way to align with the breed you love and help support it’s youth and long term sustainability.
7. Christian Youth Homes – There are tons of disadvantaged children or children of single parents that need assistance. While many of these organizations initially started to serve as Christian homes for orphans, they now have grown with innovative programs to serve at-risk children and single-mother families. Livestock and agricultural programs have shown to be very successful in helping build life skills for these young people. Check with your church to see if you can help. Many of these youth homes have wish-lists for their livestock programs, so something as simple as helping sponsor show supplies can make a different. Here’s one to check out: Arms of Hope.
8. Major Livestock Shows – We mentioned the county fair, but did you know that many major livestock shows can use sponsorships too! Major livestock shows can use premium sponsors, auction buyers, and even just good old volunteers who are ready to roll up their sleeves and get to work. In Texas, we have the Texas Association of Fairs & Events, where you can find all the best fairs in Texas. The International Association of Fairs and Events is also a great resource.
9. Look for a Calf Scramble Program – The Calf Scramble is one of rodeos best loved activities. But the benefit of this program goes well beyond the excitement of watching youngsters scramble around the arena trying to bulldog a wild calf. When you sponsor a youngster for a calf scramble program, you’re helping teach them about business, responsibility, and animal care.
10. The possibilities are endless! The 9 ideas I listed above are just the tip of the iceberg for ideas of ways to make charitable contributions in the livestock and agriculture sector. If you’d like a much more comprehensive list, visit Guidestar.