December 18, 2017 – The Decatur Public Schools Foundation today announced the creation of the Dwayne Andreas Ag Academy, made possible by a $1.65 million dollar gift by the Howard G. Buffett Foundation. Ag educators at Eisenhower and MacArthur High Schools will lead a formal academic and field-based FFA curriculum, with an emphasis on career development in the agriculture industry, beginning in the fall 2018. The Academy will incorporate a Living Science Farm and collaborate with agribusiness companies across Illinois.
“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,” said Howard G. Buffett, Chairman and CEO of the Howard G. Buffett Foundation. “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.”
“We are so excited for the opportunities this program will present for the students of Decatur Public Schools,” said District 61 Superintendent Dr. Paul Fregeau. “The number of agribusiness endeavors in the Decatur area is astounding. We feel this program will create a conduit to local careers or careers throughout the world if the students desire.”
The project has grown from a collaborative effort between school district leadership, Neuhoff Media and Limitless Decatur & Macon County. Area agribusiness employers such as ADM and Tate & Lyle will be key partners in connecting students to future jobs within the industry.
“The Academy will be a game-changer for students and for employers in our region,” said Decatur Public Schools Foundation Director Zach Shields. “Decatur represents the hub of global food production. Nowhere else in the world has there been the combination of local agribusiness partners and the generosity of a donor like Mr. Buffett to support a program of this magnitude.”
“This initiative is truly significant to continue the transformation that’s moving our community forward,” said Nicole Bateman, Executive Director of the Midwest Inland Port and Community Marketing Manager for Limitless Decatur & Macon County. “We need to identify every opportunity to connect young people directly to real job possibilities. This is an important step in that direction, and there is so much value in cultivating the communication and leadership skills developed by participation in FFA.”
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