A record-setting, unrestricted cash contribution of $1 million was given to the National FFA Foundation Thursday by RFD Communications.

Patrick Gottsch, founder and president of Omaha, Neb.-based RFD Communications, presented the donation to National FFA President Ryan Best at the FFA State Presidents’ Conference at USDA headquarters in Washington, D.C.

“When RFD-TV was launched in December 2000, our stated mission and charter was dedicated to serving the needs and interests of rural America," Gottsch said. "Our association with FFA has been such a rewarding experience and contributed much to the success now being realized at RFD-TV. We are so proud to be in a position to raise our level of support for the FFA, and we hope this contribution will encourage others to take note of the National FFA's outstanding track record with youth and the importance of investing in our future.”

The National FFA Foundation is the fundraising arm of the National FFA Organization, which provides leadership, personal growth and career success training through agricultural education to 540,379 student members in grades seven through 12 who belong to one of 7,489 local FFA chapters throughout the U.S., Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Since its inception in 1944, the foundation has raised more than $216 million to support FFA and agricultural education.

“This gift will provide FFA members with enhanced access to leadership programs, assist in efforts to establish new chapters and encourage new students to join FFA and support initiatives such as the Agricultural Career Network connecting students to career opportunities in agriculture,” said Best, an agricultural education major at New Mexico State University. “RFD-TV has demonstrated through its actions that FFA is valued.”

RFD-TV/Rural TV has been a major sponsor of the National FFA Foundation since 1988, providing funding for live telecasts of the National FFA Convention & Expo and weekly programming about FFA.

“Gifts to the foundation translate directly into educational opportunity for agriculture students, their communities and American agriculture,” said Rob Cooper, executive director of the National FFA Foundation. “RFD-TV is part of a very special group of sponsors whose significant contributions underscore their confidence in the importance of this program to their industry and our nation.”

“The support from RFD-TV will make major educational opportunities available for our students to grow as they learn about the science, business and technology of agriculture,” said said Dr. Dwight Armstrong, chief executive officer of the National FFA Organization. “These are the young people who will help feed a world population projected to grow from 6.2 billion to 9 billion by the year 2050. They are the ones to put an end to hunger and malnutrition, both at home and abroad. And they will ensure we meet the needs for food, fiber and renewable energy in sustainable ways that preserve our precious natural resources.”