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Indiana County Farm Bureaus Launch Innovative Community Programs
Indiana Ag Connection - 12/02/2021

Indiana Farm Bureau awarded development grants to five county Farm Bureaus to support new or expanded programs or events that promoted education and networking with diverse segments of agriculture. The county Farm Bureaus that received financial assistance for programming this year were Benton, Clinton, DeKalb, Floyd and Rush counties.

Each county Farm Bureau presented a new or expanded programming idea to INFB. The grant committee reviewed and approved the funds based on financial need and the potential impact of the program in expanding the county Farm Bureau's engagement and visibility within their community and the ability to reach their organizational goals.

Additionally, INFB awarded Rush County with a priority grant, designed to provide financial assistance to a county with a new program or activity that specifically addresses a critical issue, a membership promotion or advertising campaign, or a young farmer youth program or activity.

"Our county Farm Bureaus are dedicated to educating their communities about agriculture," said Isabella Chism, INFB 2nd vice president. "This year's grant recipients utilized the INFB grant program to produce creative programming that provides real value to their neighbors -- from learning more about conservation practices and how to grow your own food to the importance of farm safety and accessible broadband for everyone."

This year, INFB awarded development grants for the following programs:

- Benton County Farm Bureau was awarded a community grant to expand upon the annual Historical Conservation Agricultural Tour of Big Pine Creek Watershed. Benton County Farm Bureau partnered with the Benton County Soil and Water Conservation District to educate farmers and local residents on the agronomic and conservation history of 209,000 acres that join Benton, Warren, Tippecanoe, and White counties. The goal of the tour was to encourage and expand more practical conservation adoption in the community.

- Clinton County Farm Bureau received a community grant for an enclosed trailer used for an interactive display where children and adults learned about different animals that were exhibited at the Clinton County and 4-H Fair. The program was led by the Clinton County Farm Bureau Young Farmers & Ag Professionals, who educated fairgoers about different types of animals and what purposes they serve in the ag industry. The trailer also included a reading corner where Clinton County Farm Bureau members read agriculturally accurate books to children. The goal of the trailer was to tell the story of agriculture to adults and children in Clinton County.

- DeKalb County Farm Bureau was awarded a community grant to host a virtual screening of the feature film, Silo, which tells the story, inspired by real events, of a teenage boy who becomes the victim of grain entrapment. The virtual screening, which took place during 2021 National Grain Bin Safety Week, raised awareness of the dangers of grain entrapment with the goal of starting conversations about farm safety on DeKalb County farms. The program provided an educational and impactful look at a significant ag safety issue and brought together several audiences, including farmers, FFA chapters and first responders, to start a dialogue about grain bin safety.

- Floyd County Farm Bureau received a community grant to provide growing kits to Floyd County public school students and their families. In partnership with Purdue Extension Floyd County, Floyd County Farm Bureau supplied growing kits to every fifth grader in the public school system. Each student received a 3-gallon fabric pot filled with soil, carrot seeds, radish seeds, basil seeds, and a tomato or pepper plant. This kit also included plant tags, a drip tray and a water spritz bottle. The Purdue Extension educators worked with school officials to create lessons that teachers used in the classroom to educate students on agriculture. The goal of the program was to fight food insecurity by providing students and their families with the tools to grow their own food.

- Rush County Farm Bureau was awarded community grant funds for a campaign to collect internet speed test data in Rush County, designed to showcase areas which are underserved when it comes to reliable broadband access. The data helped Rush County receive better status for rural development grants for county level broadband from the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs and the United States Department of Agriculture. The program focused on a targeted campaign to drive awareness of the project and collect speed tests in the county. The program also served as an example of the need for reliable broadband in unserved and underserved communities, which was one of INFB's top 2021 legislative priorities.

Rush County Farm Bureau also was the recipient of a priority grant, which went to help Virgil Bremer, Rush County Farm Bureau president, obtain a position on the Rush County Economic and Community Development Corporation board. To obtain a voting seat on the board, members must pay a fee of $3,000. Along with the $1,500 in grant money from INFB, Rush County Farm Bureau collected donations from farmers and others in the community for the reminder of the membership fee. Bremer now is a voting member of the board and represents the ag industry and small businesses outside the county seat of Rushville. He participates in conversations around comprehensive economic development for Rush County and ensures that agriculture and Farm Bureau are properly represented.

INFB's program development grants are issued quarterly with one application submitted per county per calendar year. All Indiana county Farm Bureaus are eligible to apply for up to $1,500 in funding each year.

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