The nation's largest milk and dairy products producer and distributor will support the National FFA Organization in 2011 with a $100,000 sponsorship to help develop students' dairy-related skills and knowledge of the industry. Dean Foods Foundation will support two national career development competitions focused on dairy cattle evaluation and dairy foods career exploration. The company will also fund an FFA grant program that will provide resources to FFA members with financial needs to help them successfully complete FFA-required supervised agricultural experiences. Dean Foods Foundation will also sponsor an FFA scholarship program designed to support collegiate students in pursuit of careers in the agriculture industry. "Dean Foods Foundation believes in supporting local communities and their people by supporting organizations that, among other things, promote responsible agriculture," said Robert K. Cooper, executive director of the National FFA Foundation. "Its support of FFA will help us engage thousands of students as they develop skills and knowledge in the areas of dairy cattle evaluation and dairy foods production." As an FFA sponsor, Dean Foods Foundation will share its knowledge of the dairy industry, food science, animal welfare and responsible agriculture and engage FFA members and advisors at the local, regional and national levels. "We are proud to support FFA in encouraging tomorrow's leaders in dairy, agriculture and food processing," said Evan Kinser, senior director of milk supply at Dean Foods. "This grant allows us to share our resources, knowledge and expertise to help students contribute to the future of the dairy, food and agriculture industries." Dean Foods continues its long-standing commitment to agriculture, procuring milk from 12,000 dairy farmers across the United States. The company works closely with farmers to reduce on-farm environmental impacts, seek improved dairy policies, and advocate for proper care of dairy cows. In addition, Dean Foods buy large quantities of soybeans, almonds, sugar and other agricultural products. The company partners with a number of organizations to nurture farming communities, which helps strengthen local economies, ensures a safe, healthful food supply and provides sustainable livelihoods for many U.S. farmers. Dean Foods Foundation extends the company's philanthropic efforts in the areas of childhood hunger prevention, nutrition education for at-risk youth, responsible agriculture and disaster response. The National FFA Foundation builds partnerships with industry, education, government, other foundations and individuals to secure financial resources that fund FFA activities, recognize member achievements, develop student leaders and support the future of agriculture education. Nearly 82 percent of all funds received by the foundation support FFA and agricultural education opportunities. Formerly known as Future Farmers of America, the National FFA Organization provides agricultural education to more than 523,000 student members in grades seven through 12 who belong to one of 7,487 local FFA chapters throughout the U.S., Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The organization operates under a federal charter granted by the 81st U.S. Congress and it is an integral part of public instruction in agriculture. 07.08.2011