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TAYLORVILLE — In April 2019, Mike Builta, a GROW- MARK vice president and long-time employee, passed away unexpectedly. To honor his memory, the GROWMARK Foundation set up a program to honor his legacy by awarding 100 FFA jackets to FFA members in Illinois. Twenty- five jackets will be provided each year from 2019-2022. FFA members are asked to answer the question “What does the FFA jacket mean to you?” and share the main goal they wish to accomplish as an FFA member.
This year, for the third time a Taylorville FFA member was named a winner of the Mike Buila Memorial FFA Jacket Endowment. Ben Wamsley spent several hours perfecting his answers to the two questions required by this award application. When Ben was asked the question of what the FFA Jacket meant to him his answer was “The FFA jacket has an important role to FFA. Anyone who sees that jacket will know what it is. The FFA jacket represents an opportunity to represent your community. It represents the responsibility that you have for the people that wore the jacket before you and the people who will wear it after you. It represents the respect that you have to the FFA community, and it stands for the commitment that you have to represent FFA no matter how hard the challenge. Whenever you put on that jacket, you are devoting yourself to expressing what FFA stands for: to promote farming and agriculture in your community.”
Mr. Builta was raised on a family farm near Bellflower, Illinois. He was an active FFA member and lifelong support- er 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. The GROWMARK Foundation was formally incorporated in 2005 and supports 501(c)(3) not-for-profit charitable organizations. The Foundation is focused on programs and activities which support: the vitality of the industry of agri- culture; agriculture education and consumer understanding of agriculture’s contributions to society and the economy; agricultural leadership development; and education about the benefits of the cooperative way of doing business. The GROWMARK System has been involved in a variety of philanthropic efforts, includ- ing youth and young leader education and development and scholarships, for decades.