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Solar energy entrepreneur invests in Florida 4-H youth

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — When Brandon Bing got up to speak in front of a crowd of 4-H alumni and supporters at the annual Florida 4-HGator Soiree last month, he admits, he was a little nervous.

Not that he’s shy. Quite the opposite.

The outgoing entrepreneur was jittery with the knowledge his company was about help more Florida youth learn to love agriculture and technology.

“I took a deep breath, a little shaky, and I looked out at all those people, and I decided, you know what, I’m going to speak from the heart,” Bing said. He talked about growing up in an agricultural family, and seeing how 4-H had positively impacted his friends and community. “Agriculture is near and dear to my heart. Everything starts with a farmer.”

As co-founder of All American Solar, Bing was being honored for his company’s $5,000 gift to the Florida 4-H Youth Development Program, which is part of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services was an emerald sponsor of the event.

All American Solar’s gift will provide scholarships for 4-H members who participate in national, regional and state level activities related to agriculture and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). Scholarships will be available to 4-Hers throughout Florida.

“There are a lot of kids who are a part of 4-H and want to learn about agriculture and turn that into a career. Unfortunately, even if they are a part of a 4-H club, they may not be able to afford all the activities available to them. We wanted to make sure more kids had those opportunities,” Bing said.

Part of the gift will also go toward college scholarships for students who want to study at in the UF/IFAS College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS).

“If we pay it forward, it will pay us forward. I want to have young people getting a scholarship each year to a UF/IFAS program. That would be a huge benefit to 4-H and the university, and pave the way for youth who are going into agriculture,” Bing said.

Bing founded All American Solar in 2015 with his business partner Steve Lorenz. The company is located in Orange City, Florida, and specializes in residential and commercial solar panel installation.

Originally from rural Pennsylvania, Bing moved to Longwood, Florida, when he was 11. He went on to study finance in college, where he met Lorenz.

As a young entrepreneur, Bing, now 29, knew he wanted to be part of the renewable energy industry. He believes a sustainable future depends on growing that next generation of farmers and problem solvers.

“My vested interest in 4-H comes from having generations of family members who were raised on and ran farms. Your principles are different — you’re self-reliant. One benefit of supporting 4-H is that we are helping a good cause we firmly believe in and that is all grassroots,” Bing said.

Bing hopes to donate again next year and continue doing so as his company grows.

“In 30 years, I want to look back and know I left a legacy behind,” Bing said.

Generosity from donors like All American Solar and Brandon Bing directly impact the success of young people by increasing access to experiential learning and post-secondary education.

To learn how you or your organization can support Florida 4-H scholarships, go to www.florida4hfoundation.org or contact Katie Morris at 312-434-4046.

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The mission of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is to develop knowledge relevant to agricultural, human and natural resources and to make that knowledge available to sustain and enhance the quality of human life. With more than a dozen research facilities, 67 county Extension offices, and award-winning students and faculty in the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, UF/IFAS works to bring science-based solutions to the state’s agricultural and natural resources industries, and all Florida residents. Visit the UF/IFAS web site at ifas.ufl.edu and follow us on social media at @UF_IFAS.

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