Living to Serve: History of the FFA Corn Drive for True Friends

True Friends is excited to celebrate over 70 years of partnership with Minnesota FFA and over $7 million raised through the FFA Corn Drive to support True Friends Camp Courage and other True Friends locations.  

This long-lasting tradition began in 1953, in Freeborn, Minnesota, when a large storm swept through the community and Freeborn FFA Advisor, Lee Asche, gathered corn that had fallen on the ground from the storm to sell to the local grain elevator. Freeborn FFA raised $90 through this effort, which they chose to donate to Camp Courage. The following school year, FFA Executive Secretary, Waino J. Kortesmaki, encouraged all Minnesota FFA chapters to participate in the “Corn Drive” – an effort that is deeply connected to part of the FFA motto, “Living to Serve”.  

Group photo of Fulda FFA membersToday, the FFA Corn Drive has grown to include over 50 FFA chapters across the state. In addition to collecting corn, chapters also lead other fundraising efforts including pancake breakfasts, dessert auctions, fruit and flower sales, and other creative ideas to expand their impact. Many families in Minnesota have participated in the Corn Drive for multiple generations.  

John LeBlanc, President & CEO of True Friends, said “The funds received through the FFA Corn Drive have been critical to our operations and to the campers for these past 70 years, and the fact that we’ve had over 50 FFA chapters year over year over year collecting corn and sending it to the kids at camp, has been really a backbone of this organization.” 

LeBlanc added that in addition to funds raised, the outreach efforts from FFA members have supported True Friends in other important ways as well.  

“They have now engaged so many other people in our mission, to the point now where we have community members and family members waiting for FFA members to come out and ask for corn and collect corn – and that’s pretty phenomenal.” he shared.  Group photo of Lanesboro FFA members

In a typical year, True Friends will welcome over 6,000 children and adults of all abilities at Camp Courage. Funds raised through the FFA Corn Drive help to provide life-changing experiences for these campers, including ziplining, tubing, horseback riding, and more – all in an accessible environment adapted to their unique needs. The FFA Corn Drive supports programs and operations, which allows the camp to remain safe and accessible for all campers who visit, as well as scholarships for campers.  

To learn more about the FFA Corn Drive and the generational impact through an FFA family’s lens, click here 

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