As thousands of Future Farmers of America members are virtually attending the 93rd National FFA Convention & Expo, a group of West Texas students is reaping rewards from the Blue Jeans Go Green denim drive sponsored by PhytoGen, the U.S. cottonseed brand of Corteva Agriscience. Together, they kept more than 2,500 pairs of denim from area landfills, fulfilling the FFA mantra “For the Future. For All.”
Meadow FFA of Meadow, Texas, took home the grand prize of $2,000 for its efforts, while last year’s winner, Olton FFA, came in second receiving $1,000. Hutchinson County 4-H was awarded third place, earning $500 for the club.
“Early on, the whole town of Meadow promoted and contributed to our drive, but after everything shut down because of the ongoing coronavirus epidemic, our FFA team was still determined to win. They took advantage of school closing to clean out their families’ closets!” said Monica Caswell, Meadow FFA advisor.
Many FFA chapters are struggling to raise funds this year because most fundraising activities, such as concession stands, have been closed. But the teaching moment was not lost, Caswell explained.
“We are very appreciative of PhytoGen’s sponsoring the drive. We’ve been able to illustrate the sustainability of agriculture with this program. We can create more with cotton,” she said.
Since its inception in 2006, the Blue Jeans Go Green program has collected more than 3.5 million pieces of denim and over 6 million square feet of insulation has been upcycled from worn denim. Over 40 Habitat for Humanity affiliates have received denim insulation, and more than 1,750 tons of textile waste have been diverted from landfills.
“Thanks to the participation of local FFA and 4-H chapters, old denim will be recycled and put to good use as home insulation, with a portion being distributed to charitable organizations. It’s rewarding for PhytoGen cottonseed to be involved with an initiative that supports cotton-growing communities and promotes cotton’s sustainability,” said Derek Racca, PhytoGen Brand Manager.
Racca said most of the denim was collected prior to school closures, but the denim drive was necessarily delayed due to COVID-19 precautions.