Developing Future Leaders: The Goal Behind Caterpillar’s FFA Sponsorship

More than 60,000 student leaders from across the United States will get an up-close look at Caterpillar—and vice versa—later this month at the National FFA Convention & Expo.

As a five-star sponsor of the event, held October 29–November 1 in Louisville, Kentucky, Caterpillar will have a compact track loader, mini hydraulic excavator and skid steer loader on display. But the company’s support is about much more than equipment.

“FFA’s motto is ‘Learning to Do, Doing to Learn, Earning to Live, Living to Serve,’” says Karl Weiss, vice president of Caterpillar’s earthmoving division and a former FFA member. “For me, this sums up the benefits employers get when hiring FFA members.” 

Weiss, who served as vice president of the Indiana FFA Association for a year after high school, credits the organization with making him a better teammate, business person and leader. Now, he wants to make sure current FFA members are aware of the many career opportunities available at Caterpillar and Cat® dealerships.

“We have a strong need for employees with hands-on experience,” he says. “This attribute is becoming more rare these days, and FFA is a great resource for future employees and business leaders.”

That’s a big reason why Caterpillar decided to get involved with this year’s FFA convention—as well as co-sponsor its Ag Technology and Mechanical Systems competition and career development scholarship. 

“The collaboration between FFA and Caterpillar can provide tremendous benefits for both organizations,” Weiss says. “We can help FFA develop its members and at the same time be a great career destination for them.”

Photo credit: National FFA Organization

Karl Weiss Biography

Since joining Caterpillar in 1992, he has had various assignments within product development at Caterpillar’s Decatur, Joliet, and Aurora facilities, primarily focused on large machine structural design.

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