A longtime partnership between FFA and Firestone Ag creates the road map for the future of ag.
Harvey Firestone loved innovation and agriculture.
The fourth-generation farmer and founder of the Firestone Tire & Rubber Company invented pneumatic rubber tires to make farming more efficient and long hours on the tractor more comfortable, but his contribution to agriculture extended beyond tires. Firestone also played a significant role in establishing and supporting the National FFA Foundation. The partnership is still going strong after 75 years.
“Firestone was dedicated to enhancing the education of future farmers,” explains Tony Orlando, president of Firestone Ag, Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations. “Firestone Ag’s involvement with FFA is ingrained in the legacy of our company. We know that organizations like FFA are vital in moving our industry forward across generations.”
In 1944, Firestone chaired the first FFA Foundation Board, helping create the corporate structure that helps FFA develop future agriculture leaders. His son, Leonard Firestone, served as the first chairman of the FFA Corporate Governance Board. Since then, several more company executives have also held the role, acting on recommendations from national delegates and agricultural education stakeholders to set the vision and policy for FFA.
“FFA and Firestone Ag have a common goal: to better the agriculture industry and to prepare our youth to act as champions and changemakers for the industry,” Orlando says. “It is a worthy cause to be involved with, and we know that leadership will continue to take its role with FFA very seriously for decades to come.”
Firestone is helping the National FFA Foundation celebrate its 75th anniversary. In honor of the milestone, the corporation launched a Rooted in Farming contest to encourage FFA members to share their stories about the ways their families and FFA shaped their lives in agriculture.
The grand prize winner, Andrew Lauver, a fifth-generation farmer and third-generation FFA member from Rockwell City, Iowa, was awarded a set of Firestone Ag tires. In addition, three runners-up were each given a $500 gift card for Firestone Ag products. To celebrate the milestone anniversary, FFA officers visited the Bridgestone Americas headquarters in Nashville, Tenn., and met with key members of the Firestone Ag leadership team. It’s a connection Orlando wants to continue to foster.
“We are highly committed to ensuring the long-term growth and successful future of the agriculture industry as part of Harvey Firestone’s legacy,” he says. “The partnership with FFA is a key way we can help ensure our future generations continue to be involved in agriculture and feel supported in this important work.”
Photo: Courtesy IUPUI University Library Special Collections and Archives