Rain Bird becomes exclusive sponsor of IA scholarship program

The Irrigation Association announced that Rain Bird Corporation will be the exclusive sponsor of the 2022-2026 workforce development scholarship program. To honor Rain Bird’s late president and CEO, for the next five years, the program will be renamed the Irrigation Association’s Anthony W. “Tony” LaFetra Scholarship Program Sponsored by Rain Bird. In addition, the two top scholarship winners will be designated as Anthony W. “Tony” LaFetra scholars.

Rain Bird is a privately held global manufacturer and provider of irrigation products and services for farms, golf courses, sports arenas, commercial developments and homes in more than 130 countries around the world. Rain Bird has supported the IA and its initiatives for many years. Not only has the company sponsored many valuable IA programs, but many of its employees have served in leadership and volunteer roles over the years.

LaFetra became Rain Bird’s president and CEO in 1978, and his tenure was highlighted by innovations that revolutionized the irrigation industry. In 2002, he was honored with the IA’s Industry Achievement Award. He passed away in January 2021.

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“Tony LaFetra certainly left an indelible mark on the irrigation industry during his lifetime,” said Michael Roberts, Rain Bird’s vice president of technology and innovation. “Now, sponsoring this scholarship program gives us the opportunity to share his legacy with others in the years to come. Tony would be pleased that his innovative spirit and passion will help inspire a whole new generation of irrigation professionals as they pursue their careers in this industry he loved so much.”

The IA’s annual scholarship program provides meaningful financial support for the education of worthy candidates interested in pursuing an irrigation-related career. Since its inception in 2016, the program has awarded a total of $130,000 to students for tuition assistance.

“We are excited to welcome Rain Bird as the exclusive sponsor of the newly named Anthony W. ‘Tony’ LaFetra Scholarship Program,” said IA CEO Deborah Hamlin, CAE, FASAE. “The IA realizes that finding and keeping qualified employees is one of the industry’s greatest challenges, and we are committed to developing the future workforce. We look forward to partnering with Rain Bird for the next five years as we support students pursuing careers in this exciting field full of opportunity.”

For more information or questions about sponsorship opportunities or the 2021 Capital Campaign, contact IA Business Development Director Stephanie Clark, CEM, at stephanieclark@irrigation.org.