COLUMBIA CITY — The Columbia City FFA program recently received a generous gift through its booster program from Etna-Troy farmer Tom Western.

Western, owner of Western Farms, was one of 10 recipients in the region of the 19th annual Ernestine M. Raclin Community Leadership Award. Volunteers were selected for embodying the spirit, values, passion and leadership of Raclin, past Chairman of 1st Source Bank and 1st Source Corp.

Western was a volunteer fireman for over 40 years and served on the Northeastern REMC Board for 30 years. He currently serves as a Whitley County Commissioner.

Recipients of the award are allocated $1,000 to direct to a local nonprofit organization. Western has grandchildren involved in the Columbia City FFA, and following the successful Blue Jacket Bash event last September, Western approached the FFA Boosters about directing his award funds towards the FFA program.

FFA is a dynamic youth organization that changes lives and prepares members for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education. FFA develops members’ potential and helps them discover their talent through hands-on experiences, which give members the tools to achieve real-world success.

The Columbia City FFA is well-known throughout the state for its success in career development events and nationally recognized for its livestock judging program.

“It is with great pleasure that I am able to direct the proceeds of this award to such a worthwhile program that supports youth from both the agriculture and non-ag sector in our community,” said Western.

The Columbia City FFA is the oldest continuous running FFA Chapter in Indiana. Funds from donations to the boosters, as well as fruit & meat stick sales and the upcoming fish fry, support career development events including dairy, entomology, livestock, horse and soils judging, in addition to other events and leadership programs the chapter participates in annually.

“The boosters greatly appreciate that Tom allocated these funds in our efforts to support an amazing group of kids. We would also like to congratulate Tom as a recipient of such a prestigious award,” said Kelley Sheiss, FFA booster board member. “The addition of the award proceeds to the funds we raised at the very successful Blue Jacket Bash event will allow us to help continue the successful legacy of the Columbia City FFA program.”

FFA is the largest youth organization in the country. For more than 150 years, 1st Source has been committed to its mission of helping their clients achieve security, build wealth and realize their dreams.

“When asked to gather nominations of a community leader and someone who always thinks of others first, I didn’t have to think long. Tom exemplifies a true steward of the community he lives in, not only through his many years of farming but also through his time given to improve his community for many generations to come. Myself and 1st Source Bank are proud to work directly with Tom and to call him a friend,” said Jordan Messmann, 1st Source Bank agriculture lender.