The GROWMARK Foundation has awarded 25 FFA jackets to Illinois students in honor of Mike Builta, a GROWMARK vice president and long-time employee who passed away unexpectedly in 2019.
Students submitted essays explaining what an FFA jacket means to them and their goals as an FFA member.
Recipient Allee Bunnell of West Prairie FFA wrote in her essay, “The FFA jacket means many things to me but one of the most important is that I get to be closer to my dad. He was killed in a car crash when I was six and one of the few things I have of his is his FFA jacket.”
Tyler Horstmann of Wesclin FFA stated, “The FFA jacket stands for faith, honor, and pride. It means that you are a part of something bigger than yourself.”
And Keizer Tome of Macomb FFA wrote, “Having the FFA jacket means I am officially part of the team. Moving around every year I had to borrow a jacket at whatever school I went to and always felt out of place. This is my senior year and I want to have the feeling of owning one.”
Mike Builta was raised on a family farm near Bellflower, Illinois. He was an active FFA member and lifelong supporter of agricultural education. He held GROWMARK System management roles at Christian County Farmers Supply Company in Taylorville, Illinois and GRAINCO FS in Ottawa, Illinois, before becoming GROWMARK vice president of Energy and Logistics in 2018.
Builta’s family has played a key role in helping shape this project as part of his legacy, along with judging the student essays.
The Foundation has given 75 jackets to FFA students to date as part of this project, with the final 25 jackets planned to be awarded next year.
The 2021 recipients are:
- Lilliana Bernabei Marquette FFA Ottawa, IL
- Allee Bunnell West Prairie FFA Colchester, IL
- Mackenzie Dandridge Sparta FFA Sparta, IL
- Karleigh Ellis Cobden FFA Alto Pass, IL
- Kylee Faupel Donovan FFA Donovan, IL
- Tyler Horstmann Wesclin FFA Trenton, IL
- Kaelannie LaFond Donovan FFA Beaverville, IL
- Riley Matsko Streator FFA Streator, IL
- Wyatt Parks West Prairie FFA Colchester, IL
- Isabel Pistorius Meridian-Macon FFA Blue Mound, IL
- Violet Potter Odin FFA Odin, IL
- Kathryn Scharf Gibault Catholic FFA Waterloo,IL
- Dakota Schober-Kramer North Boone FFA Poplar Grove, IL
- Kristina Smith Meridian-Macon FFA Blue Mound, IL
- Lucas Staggs Normal FFA Bloomington, IL
- Ryleigh Taylor Fairfield FFA Mill Shoals, IL
- Leah Thanepohn Newark FFA Newark, IL
- Keizer Tome Macomb FFA Macomb, IL
- Hannah Treme Newark FFA Newark, IL
- Joyce Walkling Streator FFA Streator, IL
- Zack Walkling Streator FFA Streator, IL
- Benjamin Wamsley Taylorville FFA Taylorville, IL
- Destiny Zeeb Lebanon FFA Trenton, IL
- Caleb Zwilling Fisher FFA Fisher, IL
- Dylan Zwilling Fisher FFA Fisher, IL
About the GROWMARK Foundation
The GROWMARK Foundation was formally incorporated in 2005 and supports 501(c)(3) not-for-profit charitable organizations.