In April 2019, Mike Builta, a GROWMARK vice president and long-time employee, passed away unexpectedly. To honor his memory, the GROWMARK Foundation will be providing 100 FFA jackets to FFA members in Illinois.
Twenty-five jackets will be provided each year over the next four years. Students submitted an essay explaining what an FFA jacket means to them and their goals as an FFA member.
The 2019 recipients are:
- Alexandra Austin Streator FFA Chapter Streator, Illinois
- Arianna Bird River Ridge FFA Chapter Hanover, Illinois
- Lucy Clark North Clay FFA Chapter Louisville, Illinois
- Alicia Cox Sandoval FFA Chapter Sandoval, Illinois
- Alaina Deal Morrisonville FFA Chapter Morrisonville, Illinois
- Alyssa DeSplinter Bureau Valley FFA Chapter Manlius, Illinois
- Miriem Foster Fairfield FFA Chapter Fairfield, Illinois
- Tessa Funderburk Morrisonville FFA Chapter Morrisonville, Illinois
- Austin Hockenberry Ridgeview FFA Chapter Colfax, Illinois
- Jolie Johnson Newark FFA Chapter Newark, Illinois
- Jordan Johnson Pearl City FFA Chapter Pearl City, Illinois
- Breanna Lachance Grundy Area FFA Chapter Coal City, Illinois
- Travis Leggett Newark FFA Chapter Newark, Illinois
- Jaiden Mahler Serena FFA Chapter Serena, Illinois
- Katelyn Martin Meridian-Macon FFA Chapter Macon, Illinois
- Peter Metivier Normal FFA Chapter Normal, Illinois
- Baylee Newman Grundy Area FFA Chapter Coal City, Illinois
- Maddison Oliver Fairfield FFA Chapter Fairfield, Illinois
- Amelia Rodriguez Normal FFA Chapter Normal, Illinois
- Abigayle Sichling Shawnee FFA Chapter Wolf Lake, Illinois
- Aiden Soliday Blue Ridge FFA Chapter Farmer City, Illinois
- Jhia Walker Morrisonville FFA Chapter Morrisonville, Illinois
- Maria Ward Fairfield FFA Chapter Fairfield, Illinois
- Morgan Wegs Brown County FFA Chapter Mt. Sterling, Illinois
- Lily Young Tri-Valley FFA Chapter Downs, Illinois
Builta was raised on a family farm near Bellflower, Illinois. He was an active FFA member and lifelong supporter 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 agriculture; 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, including youth and young leader education and development and scholarships, for decades.