Jan 16, 2012  |  Today's News

The theme for the 2012 GROWMARK Essay Contest is: “Cooperatives in a Global Environment.” The contest is open to all high school FFA members in Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin.

This is the 19th year for the program, sponsored by the GROWMARK System and FS member cooperatives, in conjunction with state FFA leaders, to help young people develop their writing skills, learn about current issues impacting agriculture, and understand the unique role of cooperatives. This year, students will focus on three questions: What benefits do co-ops provide their member-owners? How do co-ops improve the quality of life in their communities? How do co-ops contribute to economic growth throughout the world?

Essays should be approximately 500 words, typed and double-spaced. The postmarked entry deadline for Iowa FFA members is February 15. The postmarked entry deadline for Illinois and Wisconsin FFA members is March 15. Additional program details have been sent to agriculture teachers and are online at (click on Our Commitments/Youth & Young Farmers/Essay Contest).

“Students who write essays will learn that farmer cooperatives provide many benefits for their member-owners and their communities worldwide,” said Jane Castellano, GROWMARK corporate communications and cooperative education specialist.

Each state’s winner earns a $500 scholarship and the winner’s FFA chapter receives a $300 award. Four runners-up per state each win $125 scholarships.

The program is offered each year and many agriculture teachers use it as part of their class curriculum. Past topics have included renewable fuels, biotechnology, and the cooperative principles.

GROWMARK is a regional cooperative providing agriculture-related products and services, as well as grain marketing in 31 states and Ontario, Canada. GROWMARK owns the FS trademark, which is used by affiliated member cooperatives. The FS brand represents knowledgeable, experienced professionals acting with integrity and dedication to serve more than 250,000 customers. More information is available at