INDIANAPOLIS -- Ford Motor Company has become the first million-dollar annual sponsor for the National FFA Organization.



The National FFA Foundation announced this generous pledge for 2007 during the 79th National FFA Convention in Indianapolis during the third general session in Conseco Fieldhouse when FFA sponsors were recognized by the National FFA Foundation Sponsors' Board.



"We are thrilled to welcome Ford as our first million-dollar annual sponsor in 2007, and we are proud to honor and recognize Ford for their commitment to FFA youth and agricultural education at our national convention tonight," said Dennis Sargent, executive director of the National FFA Foundation. "Ford Motor Company has been a major sponsor for FFA programs for 58 years and has consistently been one of our largest scholarship sponsors. This new financial commitment further demonstrates their dedication to helping us foster and grow this nation's future leaders."



The million-dollar financial support will sponsor collegiate scholarships, the National FFA Agriscience Fair at the convention and the Washington Leadership Conference program (WLC), a week-long series of leadership workshops held for FFA members in the summer in Washington, D.C. More than 2,500 FFA members participated in WLC in 2006.



"This commitment builds on almost six decades of Ford support of the FFA," said Ben Poore, Ford Truck Group marketing manager. "Ford continues to support the FFA because we see a clear value in the organization's development of the future leaders of American agriculture, businesses and communities."



Ford has supported the National FFA Organization since 1948, and first introduced the Built Ford Tough collegiate program in 1997. The program, equally funded by Ford Motor Company and Ford dealers, has provided more than 3,000 scholarships and over $3 million to FFA members.



For 2007, Ford will sponsor up to 700 Built Ford Tough scholarships of $1,000 for FFA members. That $1,000 can be used for books, lab fees, and decrease the final student loan that a student will have to pay. Ford is also donating a fully loaded Ford F-150 (retail value $35,000) for the FFA alumni auction being held Oct. 28 at the national FFA convention.



FFAis 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.



Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures and distributes automobiles in 200 markets across six continents. Ford has about 300,000 employees and more than 100 plants worldwide.

SOURCE: The National FFA Organization.