John Deere has announced an extension of its commitment to The First Tee, the US-based non-profit youth development organisation that uses golf to teach life and leadership skills to young people.
Deere's support from 2017 to 2021 will focus on community service and volunteering, leadership skills for girls, and programme support of The First Tee activities in selected John Deere communities in North America.
"Over the next five years, this initiative will encourage and recognise young people who take an active role in preparing for their future and serve the communities where they live," said Mara Downing, president of the John Deere Foundation and director of corporate citizenship and global brand management at Deere & Company.
A nationwide contest in the US will demonstrate the impact of leadership skills gained through community service and volunteerism with The First Tee. The First Tee participants, aged 14 to 18, will be invited to submit a written essay for the opportunity to win a $5000 college scholarship plus the opportunity to be a VIP guest and pro-am participant in 2017 at the John Deere Classic golf tournament in Silvis, Illinois.
Essays will focus on how students are a 'Power for Good' through service to their communities, the impact their work is having, and how their work is connected to the values learned through The First Tee and the game of golf. The contest will be launched later this year.
An event for girls focused on developing leadership skills within the context of the game of golf will be held in conjunction with LPGA-USGA Girls Golf in a selected The First Tee community. The winner of the national essay contest will be celebrated at this event, which will be the first ever for The First Tee to focus on leadership skills and golf awareness for a female-only audience.
The John Deere Foundation will also provide funding to further develop The First Tee chapters in selected John Deere home communities, including the Quad Cities in Illinois and Iowa, Des Moines in Iowa and Cary, North Carolina.
"Our team is thrilled to stand alongside John Deere to highlight the core values learned through involvement with the great game of golf," said Jennifer Weiler, senior vice-president and chief development officer at The First Tee. "We are encouraged by companies like John Deere who believe the seeds of leadership are sown at a young age and that programmes such as The First Tee help the next generation to learn, grow and succeed."