We often hear that people act from the heart, not the head. Nowhere is this more prevalent than when making charitable contributions to the organizations whose mission statements we align with and believe in. In the best situations, those donations not only support a strong mission statement, they also effect change and create positive impact, and ultimately make a difference. Consequently, social impact organizations don’t just work to achieve their mission—they also empower individuals to mobilize and play a part in making the world a better place.
For the past several years, I’ve had the pleasure of serving on the Board of Directors for the Niman Ranch Next Generation Foundation—an organization that provides educational assistance to the children of Niman Ranch farmers and ranchers who are committed to furthering their education to continue rural enhancement and support sustainable agriculture.
Each year, I am not only impressed with the number of donors—both companies and individuals—who support the Foundation’s efforts, but also by the fact that 100% of all contributions go toward the scholarships, thanks to the generosity of Niman Ranch, which underwrites all Foundation operating expenses, including staff.
My fellow Board members and I are never more proud of the organization as we are during those days each year when we get to read the scholarship applications and select the various recipients. Their stories always reflect a strong work ethic, a dedication to sustainability and to helping rural communities, and a sense of overall values. These values align perfectly with the Niman Ranch ethos that a company is really a group of families helping a group of families—all of which ultimately combines to help communities and the world we live in.
This year, we asked some of the Foundation’s donors to tell us why it’s important to them to donate to the Next Generation Foundation, why they feel it’s important to support future generations, and what role they believe sustainability plays in all of it. And while there were themes across many of the responses, one thing became very clear, acting from the heart is alive and well within the Foundation’s donor community:
Franklin E. Hall
CEO, Lone Star Meats
The next generation of farmers are a critical piece of our food supply. Farmers who are educated and practice humane and sustainable modalities will be a key component to the well-being of our health and planet.”
“Sustainable farming is imperative to a healthy and long-lasting society. Without traditional farming practices we are encouraging an ecosystem devoid of diversity and nutrients. Agriculture based on regenerative practices is a cornerstone in the future of farming.”
Individual Donor and Past Scholarship Recipient
I think the scholarship program is very important because someone has to take over these family farms that are becoming more and more rare. They’re the pillar of small communities and conserve sustainable farming practices.”
“The biggest challenge for beginning farmers is the financial competition. When ground or a livestock operation becomes available, it generally goes to the highest bidder. Having the equity or cash on hand to purchase a farm is very difficult. It takes time to grow an operation, and just like any other small business, the first several years are crucial. When prices are less than ideal it’s harder for a beginning farmer to outlast the challenges.”
CEO, Cannonball Express
I like the idea that we are giving tools for future farmers to be successful. We don’t see this as charity or a scholarship. We see this as an investment in the future success of our farmers. One that we are happy to make.
“As a consumer of Niman Ranch products and as a parent, I want my children to have all the same food options I had growing up without having to worry about where it comes from and if it is safe to eat.”
President, Universal Pure
The top two reasons we donate to the Niman Ranch Next Generation Foundation is to 1) invest in the upcoming generations and 2) continue doing what is right for our resources and environment. We must all give back in some way to keep this place we call Earth beautiful for all generations to come.”
“It is extremely important to support the next generation of farmers, who are focused on growing and feeding the right way. The elimination of preservatives, antibiotics, hormones, etc. is a key focus of theirs, and their vision aligns with our mission at Universal Pure: to always advance the safety and quality of what we eat and drink.”
“Participating in the Niman Ranch scholarship program is a no-brainer for us. To Universal Pure, it isn’t just a donation—it is an investment in our youth and the future of our industry. The next generation not only wants to do the right thing, but they are also committed to making it happen and will see it through to the end. We are proud to support them and entrust this mission to young farmers.”
Courtney C. Davis
President, Sterling Food Service
Supporting the next generation of farmers is extremely important! We need to stem the tide of declining family farms in the United States. I believe the more our nation’s farming remains decentralized (vs. large corporate farm centralization), the greater benefit to the country as a whole.”
“The role of sustainability is huge—to maintain an environment that will allow for continued harvest well into the foreseeable future. But in addition to environmental sustainability, I think it is equally important that farmers are also able to achieve financial sustainability.”
“Modern farming and ranching have certainly become more technical and science-based. Providing young people committed to farming with up-to-date tools and knowledge—in addition to awareness of financial management—increases the likelihood of sustainable farming careers for the next generation.”
Co-Founder, Edible Communities, Inc.
For the past several years, I’ve had the pleasure of serving on the Board of Directors for the Niman Ranch Next Generation Foundation—an organization that provides educational assistance to the children of Niman Ranch farmers and ranchers who are committed to furthering their education to continue rural enhancement and support sustainable agriculture.”
Each year, I am not only impressed with the number of donors—both companies and individuals—who support the Foundation’s efforts, but also by the fact that 100% of all contributions go toward the scholarships.”