FFA chapters in 27 states and Puerto Rico that developed a plan to tackle an environmental issue in their communities now have the funding from a national grant to bring their ideas to life.

Chapters from 74 communities learned recently that they received up to $2,000 in a grant from the National FFA Organization's Living to Serve: Environmental Grant program and will begin their yearlong environmental project when the school year resumes. The Living to Serve: Environmental Grants are provided through funding from CSX, as a special project of the National FFA Foundation.

Each winning project includes plans to invest the time of FFA members, community members and local leaders in a service-learning project that tackles issues of environmental nature. One grant recipient chapter, the Wilson FFA Chapter in Wilson, Kan., has plans to increase the output of a local recycling program by 50 percent. They intend to educate the community with recycling awareness, as well as purchase and placing new recycling bins around the school. The FFA members will be tasked with maintaining the program and collecting recycled materials.

Another recipient of the LTS: Environmental Grant program was Connecticut’s Bloomfield FFA Chapter at the Harris Agriscience and Technology Center. FFA members there intend to tackle an invasive species – the Asian Longhorned Beetle – that is attacking local trees. Their program intends to first educate the local community about the insect via four community workshops, establish a student-run blog that explains the problem to fellow students and also survey 20 percent of their town’s trees to inspect for signs the beetles. The data will then by shared with the USDA to help slow or stop the beetle infestation.

The National FFA Organization makes grant funds available for FFA chapters to develop service-learning projects that impact environmental issues in their community. Chapters may apply for up to $2,000 to support yearlong service-learning projects focused on developing and implementing projects that address local environmental needs. The service-learning method challenged members to identify, research, develop and implement solutions to needs within their school or community.

These projects illustrate the final line of the FFA motto ("Learning to Do, Doing to Learn, Earning to Live, Living to Serve") by encouraging FFA members to unite in service within their communities. The LTS: Environmental Grants take community service one step further to service-learning, which provides a meaningful way to apply leadership and education skills learned in school and FFA.

More information about the grants is available online.