Ted McKinney well remembers earning his first blue ribbon. He was 10, his project was photography, and, as a member of the Blue Ribbon Chasers Club, he entered his work in the Tipton County Fair. He received another blue ribbon at the Indiana State Fair, and, he recalls, “It is incredible what that will do for enthusiasm and motivation for the future.”
The experience not only motivated McKinney, a 10-year 4-H member, throughout his life, it planted the seed for his passion today: investing in youth.
He does that through his old favorite, 4-H, currently serving on the Indiana 4-H Foundation Board, and through the FFA, another organization he was active in as a youth. Today, the National FFA Center is right next door to Dow AgroSciences, where McKinney works. “I led the committee that brought the center here. I’ve advised them from time to time. And I serve as a good neighbor,” McKinney says. “I got so much out of those two organizations, I feel there is some duty to give back.”
Besides, he believes in both. “4-H teaches involvement, skill development, interacting with others, and various qualities. And FFA is unequivocally the premier youth development organization in the world. You can learn public speaking and parliamentary procedure, and how to run a business, keep records, and make investments. And you can develop your leadership skills.”
The father of three—two in high school and a third grader—McKinney devotes his spare time to their activities, which include football, cheerleading, basketball, Girl Scouts, and— no surprise—4-H. “I don’t miss very many of their activities,” McKinney says. “That’s important to me.”