FUELing Impact – Remembering Ross Booker


A new program offered by the Champaign County Farm Bureau Foundation has gained support in a very special way.

The Farm Bureau Foundation’s FUEL Grant program encourages the expansion of essential agricultural career pathways. Career-driven students pursing associates degrees, certificates, or accreditations in various technical or “agricultural trade” programs are eligible for FUEL Grants.

After 3 years, the Foundation has funded nearly 30 students in their pursuit of career training. These students are studying to be Advanced Applicator Technicians, Case New Holland Technicians, John Deere Technicians, and Diesel Power Equipment Mechanics, in addition to many other hands-on curricula.

A recent gift to the CCFB Foundation expands funding to these FUEL Grants while remembering a young man who represented everything that’s good about our agricultural community.

Ross Booker was a 2020 graduate a St Joseph-Ogden High School where he was a member of the football team. He was also a member and officer of the St Joseph-Ogden FFA Chapter receiving the American FFA Degree, the organizations highest recognition.

On March 5th 2022 while operating a tow-truck at the scene of an accident, Booker was struck and killed by a passing vehicle.

Ross Booker (left) poses with sister-in-law Cassie, Brother Anthony and parents Marita and David Booker.

In the days and weeks following his passing, Ross Booker was remembered fondly by friends as caring, outgoing, funny, and a friend to anyone he came in contact with. A hard worker, Booker held various jobs and volunteer positions. He was a volunteer in his community serving the St. Joseph-Stanton Fire Department. He had just completed Diesel Mechanics training at Parkland College. The College would ultimately honor Ross by awarding his degree posthumously.

It’s Ross’s passion for impacting others, and a hope to encourage others to follow in Ross’s footsteps that led to the gift to the Farm Bureau Foundation. Ross’s Parents Dave and Marita Booker, and older brother Anthony, hope their gift will encourage others to pursue their dreams and receive hands-on education that will impact the community Ross Booker loved.

The Ross Booker Endowment will fund a FUEL Grant to do just that. While the Farm Bureau Foundation hold various endowments for the traditional scholarship funds, this is the first endowment specifically for hands-on training in production agriculture.

Dave and Marita Booker present the first Ross Booker Memorial FUEL Grant to Cole Pruitt. Cole is a 2024 graduate of St. Joseph-Ogden High School.

The first recipient of the Ross Booker Memorial FUEL Grant is 2024 St. Joseph-Ogden High School graduate, Cole Pruitt. Cole will be attending Parkland College next fall where he will be pursing training as an Advanced Applicator Technician. The Farm Bureau Foundation, and the Booker family, are pleased to recognize Cole’s commitment to agriculture, and his service to his school and community through this award.

To learn more about the Farm Bureau Foundation, FUEL Grant’s, or the Ross Booker Memorial Endowment, please contact the CCFB Foundation at 217-352-5235 or www.ccfbfoundation.com/fuel.