Million-dollar donation creates agriculture academy

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DECATUR, Ill. (WAND) – A seven-figure gift has made a new agriculture education program possible.

The Howard G. Buffett Foundation gave $1.65 million to the Decatur Public School Foundation toward the creation of what will be called the Dwayne Andreas Ag Academy. It’s meant to give students at Eisenhower and MacArthur schools a chance to learn about careers in the agriculture industry.

“We have to engage more young people to pursue opportunities in agriculture if we want the United States to continue to be a leader in global food security,” Howard Buffett said. “Dwayne Andreas was a true pioneer who helped make the U.S. a global leader in agribusiness. We hope this academy inspires the next generation of leaders to build on his legacy.”

DPS Foundation organizers say the academy will provide an academic and field-based Future Farmers of America curriculum, complete with a Living Science Farm. It will work with agribusiness companies across the state of Illinois.

“We are so excited for the opportunities this program will present for the students of Decatur Public Schools,” said District 61 Superintendent Dr. Paul Fregeau. “The number of agribusiness endeavors in the Decatur area is astounding. We feel this program will create a conduit to local careers or careers throughout the world if the students desire.”

Archer Daniels Midland and Tate & Lyle are expected to help connect students to job opportunities in agriculture.

The academy is scheduled to open classes in the fall of 2018.

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