March 14, 2016

Northwest FCS News


Fairbanks FFA Chapter Wins $10,000 in National Farm Credit 100 Fresh Perspectives Search

Effie Kokrine FFA Selected as Top Youth Leadership Group

Spokane, Wash. - March 15, 2016 – The Effie Kokrine FFA chapter in Fairbanks, Alaska, is among the top 10 distinguished honorees recognized nationally through Farm Credit 100 Fresh Perspectives, a search to identify and honor 100 leaders changing rural communities and agriculture for the better.

Effie Kokrine FFA will be honored in Washington, D.C., at a special Farm Credit event in June. There, the chapter will receive a $10,000 award to help further their contributions to their rural community and agriculture.

Effie Kokrine Charter School is a public charter school with a population that is 60 percent Alaska Native and where more than 70 percent of the students qualify for free lunch. The members of its FFA chapter have been changing the school to benefit its students, one innovation at a time.

“The students are not from affluent backgrounds, many of them haven’t farmed before and few have thought about where their food comes from,” says Sue McCullough, the school’s FFA Adviser and an Early College Coordinator at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. “Teaching them to sow seeds and watching their faces when seedlings emerge makes it all worth it.”

To address issues of nutrition, the FFA program started a school garden. In summer, students earn science credits with class-based activities in the garden. The vegetables produced are sold at market or preserved for the cafeteria. When FFA members heard their classmates bemoaning a lack of healthy options for lunch, they applied for and received a donated “Let’s Move!” salad bar. The bar is now a popular stop for students as they load up on healthy produce.

“I love to see students reach their full leadership potential – we’ve had a student from our school serve as a state FFA officer two years in a row now. It’s exciting to see their confidence blossom,” says McCullough. “I hope that students are inspired to continue to explore the world around them. Even if they decide not to pursue careers in agriculture, they can take the skills they’ve learned in FFA to be successful in whatever sector they put their minds to.”

McCullough will travel to Washington, D.C, and accept the $10,000 grand prize on behalf of Effie Kokrine FFA.

“Farm Credit has supported rural communities and agriculture for 100 years, and we appreciate the vision and hard work it takes to for rural communities to survive and thrive as times change,” said Phil DiPofi, President and CEO of Northwest Farm Credit Services, which serves Alaska and the four Northwest states. “We are delighted to honor Effie Kokrine FFA and their leadership in helping to define the future of rural communities and agriculture in Alaska. Their innovative efforts to help students will further contribute to a vibrant future for rural America.”

Farm Credit launched the Farm Credit 100 Fresh Perspectives program as part of its 100th anniversary of service to rural communities and agriculture. Selected by a panel of experts on rural matters, including Farm Credit leaders and others from around the agriculture industry, honorees such as Effie Kokrine FFA are among the best of the best who are positively shaping what is next for rural communities and agriculture. A complete list of the Farm Credit 100 Fresh Perspectives honorees can be found at

About Northwest Farm Credit Services
Northwest FCS is a $10.6 billion financial cooperative providing financing and related services to farmers, ranchers, agribusinesses, commercial fishermen, timber producers, rural homeowners and crop insurance customers in Montana, Idaho, Oregon, Washington and Alaska. Northwest FCS is a member of the Farm Credit System that supports agriculture and rural communities with reliable, consistent credit and financial services.

Debra Strohmaier
Communications Specialist or 509.340.5443