EDUCATION

Illinois Farmers to Plant $240,000 to Grow their Local Communities

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record

What could $2,500 do to help rural communities in Illinois? Whether it will support a local agricultural youth group, or purchase new equipment for a school, Illinois farmers have the opportunity to win $2,500 for their community. The awards are available through Monsanto Fund’s America’s Farmers Grow CommunitiesSM program, a program now being offered in 1,201 counties across 38 states.

“More than 95 percent of the land in the United States is home to a rural community, and farmers work hard to support those communities,” said Brett Begemann, Monsanto Fund Chairman. “We created the America’s Farmers Grow Communities program to celebrate that hard work. Every rural community has vital needs. It’s our goal for every $2,500 award to support rural community needs and cause a ripple effect of benefits along the way.”

In Illinois, $240,000 will be invested in rural communities in 96 counties. The program is intended to benefit nonprofit community groups such as ag youth organizations, schools and other civic groups important to America’s farmers.

“A donation of $2,500 could help a community garden buy thousands of seeds, or help a school buy new computers,” Begemann said. “It takes just a few minutes for a farmer to sign up online for a chance to really benefit an organization that’s important to them, and more importantly, benefit their friends, family and neighbors as a result of that donation.”

Monsanto Fund also will donate $1 to the United Way on behalf of each farmer who signs up for the America’s Farmers Grow Communities program. The $1 will be donated to the United Way chapter in the home county of the farmer. This offers yet another way for farmers to invest in the future of their rural community.

Farmers can apply online at www.growcommunities.com or they can call 1.877.267.3332 to apply by phone. Farmers, age 21 and over, who are actively engaged in farming a minimum of 250 acres of corn, soybeans and/or cotton, or 40 acres of open field vegetables, or at least 10 acres of tomatoes, peppers and/or cucumbers grown in protected culture, are eligible. The application period runs September 1 through December 31, 2010. The program is open to all qualifying farmers, and no purchase is necessary in order to enter or win. One winner will be randomly selected for each of Illinois’ 96 participating counties. Monsanto Fund will announce winning farmers and recipient organizations in January 2011.

Eligible counties include Adams, Alexander, Bond, Boone, Brown, Bureau, Calhoun, Carroll, Cass, Champaign, Christian, Clark, Clay, Clinton, Coles, Crawford, Cumberland, De Kalb, De Witt, Douglas, Edgar, Edwards, Effingham, Fayette, Ford, Franklin, Fulton, Gallatin, Greene, Grundy, Hamilton, Hancock, Henderson, Henry, Iroquois, Jackson, Jasper, Jefferson, Jersey, Jo Daviess, Kane, Kankakee, Kendall, Knox, La Salle, Lawrence, Lee, Livingston, Logan, Macon, Macoupin, Madison, Marion, Marshall, Mason, Massac, McDonough, McHenry, McLean, Menard, Mercer, Monroe, Montgomery, Morgan, Moultrie, Ogle, Peoria, Perry, Piatt, Pike, Pulaski, Putnam, Randolph, Richland, Rock Island, Saline, Sangamon, Schuyler, Scott, Shelby, St. Clair, Stark, Stephenson, Tazewell, Union, Vermilion, Wabash, Warren, Washington, Wayne, White, Whiteside, Will, Williamson, Winnebago, and Woodford.

Visit www.growcommunities.com to sign up and to learn more about the America’s Farmers Grow Communities program. The project is part of a broad commitment by Monsanto Fund to invest in farm communities, in order to highlight the important contributions farmers make every day to our society. To view the official rules for this program, visit www.growcommunities.com or send a written request to Jane Winburn, 914 Spruce St., St. Louis, MO 63102.

About Monsanto Fund

The Monsanto Fund is the philanthropic arm of the Monsanto Company. Incorporated in 1964, the Fund’s primary objective is to improve the lives of people by bridging the gap between their needs and their resources. Visit the Monsanto Fund at www.monsantofund.org/asp/welcome.asp.