A Look Back on 75 Years of Giving
Since 1947, the CHS Foundation has been devoted to developing the next generation of leaders in agriculture through cooperative education, university partnerships and ag leadership programs. But without the growers and the teachers, the dreamers and the doers, the collaborators and the mentors, the last 75 years of giving would not have been possible. In honor of this milestone, the CHS Foundation is highlighting many of its incredible partners that are helping build a future of strong, smart, ag-centric minds that can move the industry forward.
A Series of Firsts
In 75 years, the CHS Foundation has experienced several firsts that have solidified its mission and contributed to the impact it has had on the agriculture industry. Strategic partnerships with organizations that share the core values of furthering the next generations of agriculture enable the CHS Foundation to support those leading the way in ag education.
Elevating the Educators
Building a strong and well-educated next generation in agriculture begins with the teachers who are committed to bringing ag-related lessons to their students, which is why the CHS Foundation is equally committed to providing support to help those teachers fuel students’ excitement and interest in farming and ranching.
Supporting the Cooperative Business Model
As the charitable arm of the largest farmer-owned cooperative in the United States, keeping the cooperative system strong and thriving was one of the first focuses of the CHS Foundation. By supporting cooperative education programming, the CHS Foundation is helping teachers reach students of all ages, ensuring a path of future success for cooperative systems.
Building the Future of Ag with FFA and 4-H
FFA and 4-H are synonymous with the future of agriculture, which is why for nearly six decades, the CHS Foundation has supported both organizations in a variety of ways, including providing access and opportunity for all students.
In 1947, the CHS Foundation’s founding cooperatives recognized the role agriculture businesses play in building communities, in bettering lives, and in giving back. Beginning as the Central Exchange Foundation, the initial focus was on charitable purposes to build a better tomorrow for neighbors, customers, and partners. Soon after, the founding board members recognized the importance of supporting agriculture programs and research at colleges and universities. Four universities were among the first to receive funding and are still strong partners today.
North Dakota Farmers Union (NDFU) Camp received its first support from the CHS Foundation in 1957. The camp has been instrumental in teaching students about the cooperative business model in agriculture today.
In 1968, support for FFA started at the state level, with the CHS Foundation first supporting Minnesota FFA. Minnesota FFA has been able to expand the number of scholarships it provides to students that come from economically challenged households to ensure they have the same educational opportunities as other students, including attendance to the Minnesota State FFA Convention.
By 1977, the CHS Foundation’s support for FFA had reached the national level as well as ten state FFA associations. We’ve supported countless competitions, awards and opportunities for students to engage from the local to national level and ultimately find their places in agriculture. The partnership now includes support of 17 state FFA programs where CHS farmers-owners and cooperative employees live and work.
By 1999, support for Ag in the Classroom had expanded to six states (Montana, Minnesota, South Dakota, Utah, Washington and Wyoming) to increase ag literacy for pre-kindergarten through 12th grade students. Nationally, the CHS Foundation support for Ag in the Classroom provided teacher scholarships to attend the national conference, grants to implement classroom projects, and state organization grants.
Commitment to inclusivity and diversity was the driving force behind the CHS Foundation’s relationship with Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and the Related Sciences (MANRRS) in 2010. As the primary supporter of the JR. MANRRS program, the CHS Foundation provides financial support for the Going for Gold scholarship that provides financial assistance to high school students with plans to pursue an ag-related or STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) field of study.
In 2011, the CHS Foundation was a founding supporter of the National Teach Ag Campaign. This initiative was designed to address the ag teacher shortage in the country. Since its beginning, National Teach Ag has successfully led recruitment and retention programs to find new teachers and support current ag teachers. A partnership between National Association of Agricultural Educators and the National FFA Foundation, along with financial support from the CHS Foundation, is credited with training more than 450 educators to deliver cooperative content as part of their agricultural curricula in preparing students for careers in agriculture.
Transforming agricultural education and creating new opportunities for students fueled a 2016 CHS Foundation grant to the University of Minnesota. The $3.44 million grant funds resources ranging from a technology laboratory to new agriculture curricula from Kindergarten to the university level with a common goal of providing new opportunities to prepare future agriculture leaders and educators while strengthening rural communities.
In 2018, the CHS Foundation partnered with National Association of Ag Educators to develop My Local Cooperative, a cooperative education curriculum designed for ag teachers by ag teachers.
An interactive map utility helps students and their teachers connect with local cooperatives in their communities whose teams can contribute to unique educational opportunities like job shadowing and school visits.
A $1.5 million CHS Foundation grant contributed to the state-of-the-art Raven Precision Agriculture center, which opened on the campus of South Dakota State University in September 2021. The facility helps prepare students for careers in the ag technology sector, including hands-on instruction in the high-demand precision ag sector, an area of major opportunity for students entering the ag workforce.
In 2020, the CHS Foundation partnered with Discovery Education to build the Cooperative Minds platform – an online learning portal that features free videos, curriculum, career profiles and other resources for any teacher to use in their classroom to educate students about the cooperative business model and careers.
In December 2020, the CHS Foundation announced the commitment of more than $4 million through 2023 to support FFA and agricultural educators. 56 years after its initial support, the CHS Foundation has grown to become a platinum sponsor of National FFA and supports 17 state FFA associations. The support includes the Teach Ag Campaign that focuses on ag teacher retention and recruitment as well as the My Local Cooperative curriculum in which students learn about the value of the cooperative system in planning for careers in agriculture.
In 2021, the CHS Foundation also contributed $100,000 in support of NDFU’s Jamestown Cooperative Camp renovation, ensuring thousands more students will have access to cooperative education programming in the future.
Flash forward to 2021, the CHS Foundation committed $1 million to the National 4-H Council to support the 4-H True Leaders in Equity and What I Wish People Knew (WIWPK) programs. The 4-H True Leaders in Equity Institute trains up to 100 youth and adults to serve as equity leaders in their communities and the WIWPK program empowers 4-H youth in sharing their stories and passion for diversity, equity and inclusion.
For more than 60 years, the CHS Foundation has supported projects at NDSU including a commodity trading lab that added to a commodity marketing training program for student and farmer education. Students entering the commodity marketing profession gained access to high-tech learning platforms and tools as a result of a CHS Foundation $2.5 million grant to create the North Dakota State University CHS Chair in Risk Management and Trading.