No one knows exactly how long the Ports of Indiana has leased land free of charge to the Mount Vernon FFA, but one thing is certain: No one plans to end the relationship anytime soon.
The statewide port authority waives all fees in leasing 5 acres of land at the Mount Vernon port to the FFA chapter. The students work together in obtaining seed, planting and harvesting a crop rotation of either corn or soybeans. After harvest, the crop is sold to local grain facilities and port companies, typically raising about $3,500 from the 5 acres.
The proceeds help fund programs such as FFA leadership and career development events, the Indiana and National FFA Conventions, and transportation to various community service activities.
The arrangement allows students an opportunity to attend FFA events without worrying about transportation or finances, says Alicia Schmidt, Mount Vernon High School agriculture teacher and FFA adviser.
This unique hands-on agriculture education opportunity is something both FFA students and port officials are happy to see continue.
“This opportunity gives students a chance to learn about production, agriculture, land and money management, sustainability, and planning,” says Schmidt, noting the chapter is extremely grateful for the opportunity to partner with the Ports of Indiana.
As part of the most recent arrangement, chapter members were invited to tour the Mount Vernon port on the Ohio River along with Ports of Indiana CEO Jody Peacock, witnessing the signing agreement and participating in an open house to discuss operations with port officials and customers.
A former FFA member, Peacock said his time in FFA gave him a broad perspective on agriculture beyond his family’s pig farm.
“It’s also the first place I learned to tie a tie and do public speaking,” he says.
Port officials say providing the land free of charge to the FFA chapter demonstrates support for local organizations and contributes to community development.
See more: Purdue University Students Compete to Create the Best Soybean-Based Products
Sailing for Success
Established in 1961, the Ports of Indiana is dedicated to growing Indiana’s economy by developing and maintaining a world-class port system on three ports along the Ohio River and Lake Michigan. In addition to Mount Vernon, the other ports are Burns Harbor and Jeffersonville.
Agricultural cargo at Mount Vernon – which typically consists
of ethanol, grain, soy products or fertilizer – averages about
2.6 million tons per year.
For the first time ever, Indiana’s ports now rank first among inland ports for cargo shipments. Overall, Indiana’s ports generate $8.2 billion in annual economic impact for the state’s economy and support 50,000 jobs.
The land agreement between the Ports and Mount Vernon FFA is for a 12-month period, and intentions are for the arrangement to be renewed annually for years to come.
“There will always be a special place in my heart and in this port for the FFA,” Peacock says.
FFA, a school-based national youth leadership development organization, has more than 850,000 student members. Its national headquarters is in Indianapolis, and Indiana FFA is the state’s largest career and technical student organization with more than 12,000 members in 219 local FFA chapters.
The organization’s mission is to make a positive difference in students’ lives by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success – whether as a farmer, rancher, teacher, doctor, scientist, business professional or another career path.