INDIANAPOLIS - The National FFA Organization announces the first-ever Earth Day Service Challenge in partnership with Timberland PRO. The challenge encourages FFA chapters to develop reforestation or conservation projects in their communities and engage local volunteers.

Projects must include at least 50 volunteers and take place during April, ideally on Earth Day, April 22. A reforestation project includes planting trees which removes pollutants from the air, lowers energy consumption levels and prevents erosion. A conservation project can include waterway cleanup project in a nearby lake or river, park or trail refurbishing and more.

Projects performed and submitted will be judged on specified criteria, including degree of transformation and project sustainability. Participating chapters have the chance to use the Timberland Service Toolkit when preparing their project application.

With the support of Timberland PRO, the Earth Day Service Challenge will award a $3,000 Best Civic Engagement grant to the chapter with the most volunteer involvement, and a $7,000 Best Impact grant to the chapter which demonstrates the most powerful impact to their community.

Both the National FFA Organization and Timberland make community service a priority. Timberland provides all salaried, full-time employees with one week of paid volunteer time each year. Earth Day represents Timberland's largest service event, and they anticipate approximately 9,000 volunteers in more than 20 countries this year. A national sponsor for more than four years, Timberland PRO supported the first-ever National FFA Day of Service at the 79th National FFA Convention last October.

The Earth Day Service Challenge will be announced on the February episode of the FFA Today television show. Participants and winners will be featured on episodes throughout the spring. FFA Today is a monthly video showcase of talented students highlighting agricultural education and the exciting worlds of agriscience, technology, agribusiness, leadership development and community service. Airing the third Monday of each month, FFA Today is broadcast nationally on the RFD-TV television network.

FFA is a national youth organization of 495,046 student members preparing for leadership and careers in the science, business and technology of agriculture with 7,242 local chapters in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. FFA makes a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education.

Timberland PRO is an industry leader in the design, engineering and marketing of premium-quality footwear and accessories for working professionals who require the best comfort and protection on the job. Timberland PRO embraces the company's commitment of "doing well and doing good" -- forging powerful partnerships among employees, consumers and service partners to transform the communities in which they live and work.

SOURCE: The National FFA Organization news release.