INDIANAPOLIS — Nearly 25,000 agricultural jobs go unfilled every year due to a lack of qualified applicants.

The agriculture industry needs talented, driven and passionate young people willing to make a commitment to agriculture, especially with a growing population and the subsequent need to feed an estimated 9 billion people by the year 2050.

Monsanto Co. recently announced its launch of the America’s Farmers Grow Ag Leaders scholarship program to get students in rural America excited about careers in agriculture.

America’s Farmers Grow Ag Leaders, presented by Monsanto in connection with the National FFA Scholarship program, offers students the chance to earn a $1,500 scholarship for college.

“With $1,500 to put toward their college education, students will be better prepared to make a meaningful contribution that benefits them, their rural hometowns and the future of the agricultural industry,” said Elizabeth Vancil, Monsanto customer advocacy outreach manager.

Agriculture is more than just farming — it’s thousands of careers in a variety of fields, including plant science, engineering, communications, finance and much more — and the Grow Ag Leaders scholarship is available to students pursuing these and many other agricultural majors.

More than 16 percent of Indiana’s workforce is connected to agriculture, with 573,874 Hoosiers employed by farms.

Monsanto recognizes and supports the role that farmers play in the future of agriculture, so each Grow Ag Leaders applicant must have three farmers endorse his or her application. Eligible farmers also can help generate student interest in agricultural careers by spreading the word about this scholarship opportunity to eligible students in their communities and families.

Indiana was chosen to pilot the Grow Ag Leaders program and is one of only six states receiving the opportunity for scholarships this year. This year, America’s Farmers Grow Ag Leaders is available in 36 Crop Reporting Districts in Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Nebraska, North Carolina and South Carolina.

A total of 83 Indiana counties in nine CRDs are eligible for the program. Unless there are insufficient entries, 18 scholarships totaling $27,000 will be awarded in Indiana.

A list of all 264 eligible counties within the 36 CRDs, and a full list of student and farmer eligibility requirements can be found at GrowAgLeaders.com.

Eligible students should visit FFA.org/scholarships for complete program information and to complete the application between now and Feb. 1.

Eligible farmers should visit FFA.org/scholarships or call (877) 267-3332 before Feb. 8 to endorse a student. Farmers must have the student’s scholarship application ID to complete the endorsement.

No purchase is necessary to apply or win.