Frederick County is home to more than 1,300 farms and 181,500 acres of farmland. Agriculture is one of the oldest and largest industries in the county, generating an economic impact of nearly $1.5 billion annually. Agriculture is vital to Frederick County and educating and inspiring future farmers has been top of mind for several Community Foundation donors.
FFA is a youth organization that aims to help students discover their talents through agricultural education. Originally known as Future Farmers of America, the organization’s mission statement says it “is dedicated to making a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education.” Frederick County is home to 10 FFA Chapters.
The Community Foundation has helped several donors create funds that support FFA activities and initiatives and several other funds that support agriculture education in general.
In 2008, C. Rodman Myers and M. Jean Ogle Myers of Thurmont created The C. Rodman and Jean Ogle Myers Fund with the purpose of providing grants to educational, therapeutic, and agricultural based organizations. Rodman Myers has been a driving force of agricultural events and education in Frederick County for more than 60 years. He is a life member of the Catoctin FFA Alumni, where his vision, time and farming experience have positively impacted the program. In 2013 he was recognized as a Community Foundation Wertheimer Fellow for Excellence in Volunteerism for his decades of service.
The C. Rodman and Jean Ogle Myers Fund has dispersed 36 grants totaling more than $16,700 to the Maryland FFA Foundation and the Frederick County 4-H Therapeutic Riding Program.
The Walkersville FFA Alumni Association created The Clayton Lenhart Memorial Scholarship Fund with the Community Foundation shortly after Lenhart’s sudden death in 2008. The fund honors his memory and lifelong support of the FFA by providing financial assistance to students who are former members of the Walkersville High School FFA chapter. This fund has awarded more than $15,100 to 13 students.
Additionally, The Maryland FFA Foundation Endowment Fund has awarded 15 grants totaling almost $8,000.
Other Community Foundation funds that support agriculture education include The Franklin and Bess Gladhill Fund for Agriculture Education and The Maryland Master Farmers Scholarship Fund.
The legacies of these men and women, who have deep roots in Frederick County farming and agriculture initiatives, will live on through the funds that continue to impact Frederick County’s landscape and the future farmers who will work it.