The Howard G. Buffett Foundation in Decatur, Illinois, has awarded $1.65 million to Decatur Public Schools in support of an initiative to introduce students to careers in agriculture, the Herald & Review reports.
The gift will help launch the Dwayne O. Andreas Ag Academy — named for the former chairman of agribusiness giant Archer Daniels Midland, Decatur's largest employer — at the city's MacArthur and Eisenhower high schools. Starting next fall, the academy will offer a formal academic and field-based Future Farmers of America (FFA) curriculum that will include a living science farm on fifteen acres owned by the district and twelve-month container gardens at both schools. The program also will offer career pathways for students interested in working locally in the agribusiness industry as well as global opportunities, said superintendent Paul Fregeau.
In addition, the district's Montessori schools will benefit from access to the farms, while 4H Clubs will be started at all elementary schools to expose younger students to agriculture and agribusiness career education.
Over the past twelve years, HGBF has given more than $3 million to Decatur Public Schools, said Zach Shields, executive director of the Decatur Public Schools Foundation.
"We have to engage more young people to pursue opportunities in agriculture if we want the United States to continue to be a leader in global food security," Buffett said in a statement. "Dwayne Andreas was a true pioneer who helped make the U.S. a global leader in agribusiness. We hope this academy inspires the next generation of leaders to build on his legacy."