In conjunction with National Farmer’s Day, Wrangler said it is strengthening commitments to future agricultural leaders through a training program and student scholarship grants focused on sustainable soil health practices.
Wrangler has awarded the first Next Generation Land Stewardship scholarship to Jacob Sykes, an agriculture production major with a concentration in environmental and natural resources at Mount Olive University in North Carolina. The denim brand has also committed to a demonstration farm training program with the North Carolina Foundation for Soil and Water Conservation to support farmers dedicated to advancing sustainable agriculture practices.
Wrangler will fund the new program, which aims to increase the adoption of cover crop implementation by commercial cotton and soy producers in North Carolina. The initiative will establish four 10-acre demonstration farms where cotton producers from across the state will be invited to learn progressive steps in heavy cereal rye cover crop management. During field days throughout the year, more than 1,000 producers will experience firsthand the importance and immediate benefits of cover cropping, including weed control and insect suppression.
“We are excited to be able to host these demonstration farms and training for growers who recognize the value of implementing these beneficial land stewardship practices,” said Michelle Lovejoy, executive director for the North Carolina Foundation for Soil and Water Conservation. “The Wrangler brand’s demonstrated support is helping to create a culture of farmer resiliency and proves that preserving America’s farmland is of utmost importance.”
Building on previous initiatives for youth farmer education, Wrangler introduced a $5,000 scholarship earlier this year as part of its annual Next Generation Land Stewardship conference, where hundreds of students convened to learn advanced soil health techniques. Sykes, who said he believes soil is the most valuable resource on the planet, plans to continue his education toward becoming a soil scientist after graduation.
“Wrangler is inspired by emerging agricultural leaders who look at the land as more than just a chemistry set, but a living, breathing soil that benefits the crop, the surrounding communities and farmer livelihood,” said Roian Atwood, sustainability director at Wrangler, which counts cotton as its top raw material. “We’re excited to support both Jacob and the NCFSWC as they work to preserve soil as a vital resource and keystone of our nation’s food and fiber production.”
As part of its celebration of National Farmer’s Day, Wrangler released a video featuring fifth-generation farmers Vance and Mandie Smith of Big Springs, Texas, who are sustainable cotton producers committed to innovative soil health practices.
The third annual Next Generation Land Stewardship Conference will take place April 20, 2019, in Greensboro, N.C., where Wrangler is based.