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I’m thankful for my job in agriculture

Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays, even though my family’s celebrations haven’t exactly been traditional. Growing up, we would always spend our Thanksgiving volunteering at our local volunteer fire company’s supper, which was a major fundraiser for the year. My brother and I were usually tasked with dusting oysters for frying (seafood at Thanksgiving – it’s a Maryland thing), so from early in the morning into the evening you could find us covered in flour filling tray after tray with powdered oysters. Some years we missed out on eating before our favorite foods were gone – on one particularly dreary occasion my Thanksgiving dinner was a tuna sub from Sheetz.

2015-AFIA-27After moving six hours away from home for college and even further away for my first job – not to mention dating a veterinary student and later a veterinarian who was at the mercy of his clinic rotation and on-call schedule – I’ve had plenty of other non-traditional Thanksgiving dinners, from ‘Friendsgivings’ to my parents driving up to my then-boyfriend’s house in upstate New York with a fully cooked dinner in tow. While the traditional turkey dinner and festively decorated home haven’t always been part of my Thanksgiving holidays, the feeling of gratefulness is always there.

When I think of #WhyIThankAg, a million reasons come to mind. Of course, I am thankful for the work everyone involved in the agriculture industry does to produce safe, affordable food for our families. Because a slim minority of the population takes on the task of raising animals and growing crops, the rest of us are able to pursue different ambitions and goals. My goals happen to be within the field of agriculture, and a big reason #WhyIThankAg is the amazing opportunities I have enjoyed both personally and professionally as a part of this industry.

I began judging dairy cattle as part of the 4-H program when I was nine years old. When I was 16, dairy judging took me on a trip to Europe after my team won the national 4-H contest. A few years later, that involvement connected me to Ohio State’s dairy judging coach who then recruited me to come to college there, where I found immeasurably valuable professional contacts, lifelong friends, and even my husband. In high school, I was very involved with FFA. The agricultural communication Career Development Event ignited my passion for combining communications and agriculture and influenced my selection of a college major. I still work in the agricultural communication field today and don’t see myself ever leaving it.

I thank agriculture for the life I’m lucky to get to live. Without the support of industry mentors or sponsoring organizations, none of the experiences I and many other agricultural youth have enjoyed would have been possible. It hasn’t stopped since moving to the professional world, either. The agriculture industry is a wonderfully unique place, because we are all connected by our passion for helping farmers and ranchers. I don’t think I’ve ever met someone in an agricultural career who views it as “just a job” or “a way to get a paycheck.” Even colleagues who don’t come from a farm background are amazed and inspired by the producers they get to meet.

I’m thankful to work with such a diverse network of passionate, talented people – individuals that I never would have met if it weren’t for agriculture. A career in agriculture is the best one a person can have – that’s #WhyIThankAg!

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8 Reasons to Celebrate FFA

12063584_10205154888819727_4930963141184318554_n“I believe in the future of agriculture…”

I vividly remember reciting these words over and over in my head during my first course in agricultural education. This iconic line is the first phrase in the FFA Creed. It is a line that FFA members, past and present, can recite without hesitation because of its symbolism and the bond that ties us all together. From the first time I recited the FFA Creed to earning my American FFA Degree six years later; this organization has truly helped me become the person I am today.

If you are not familiar with FFA, here some of the basics of the organization that has touched the lives of thousands of students.

  • It was founded by 33 students in 1928 as ‘Future Farmers of America.’
  • Although it once stood for that, it is now referred to as The National FFA Organization to better accommodate the growing diversity of its members.
  • It is the largest student-led organization in the world with 649,355 members who are a part of 7,859 chapters.
  • The mission of The National FFA Organization is: “FFA makes a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education”

The FFA Motto: Learning to Do, Doing to Learn, Earning to Live, Living to Serve.

Check out The National FFA Organization for more information!

This week happens to be an e10292278_869204976434761_2988694273467545930_nxtra special one for The National FFA Organization. On Wednesday October, 19 FFA will kick off its 89th National FFA Convention & Expo in Indianapolis. It is a gathering of over 63,000 members and guests, who are there to learn, lead, grow and celebrate the accomplishments of members and chapters across the country. While I am very envious of everyone at convention right now, I am ecstatic to share with you all eight reasons why we should always Celebrate FFA!

  1. A Rich History – Whenever a member zips up the golden zipper of a blue corduroy jacket, there is a sense of pride that overfills them. Being a part of a tradition that dates back to 1928 is something to be proud of. FFA was founded on the belief in the future of agriculture and that will never change. It is the bond that ties present and past members together.
  2. Personal Development – In high school, I was a shy, timid freshman. It was not until I found my place in the FFA that I truly developed into the person I am today. FFA is helping students to find their purpose. It may be in agriculture, it may not be, but regardless of your goals and aspirations, FFA will help you grow into someone who will make a difference.
  3. Lifelong Friends – Some of the most impactful relationships I have are because of my time in the FFA. I have friends from all over the country! When you graduate from FFA, the relationships do not become a thing of the past. The relationships will hold true because of the experiences you shared in the FFA.
  4. Opportunity to Travel – FFA can take you across the world!

    FFA State Officers have the opportunity to participate in an international experience. This photo was taken in South Africa.

    On the local level, chapters will travel throughout their counties to state convention and to camps and conferences competing in contests, participating in service projects and gaining valuable leadership experiences. National FFA Convention is a great way for members to travel and meet people from all over. Each summer, FFA also hosts Washington Leadership Conference in D.C. This conference focuses on learning how to take action in your community and serve other people. Through my experiences in the FFA I have been all over the state of Minnesota, Washington D.C., about eight different states and even to South Africa. These were all unforgettable experiences that would have never been possible without the help of FFA.

  5. Scholarships – Each year, The National FFA Organization will give away $2.2 million in scholarships. How great is it that individuals and companies believe so highly in the future of agriculture that will donate this much to the education of students!
  6. 14469617_1287549081279258_348064421540300413_nCareer Preparation – In the FFA, there are Career Development Events (CDEs) and Supervised Agricultural Experiences (SAEs) that are helping students prepare for future career endeavors in many agricultural pathways. At the national level there are 24 CDEs that all you to
    compete individually or with a team in areas ranging from marketing/communications to dairy cattle evaluation and parliamentary procedure to agricultural mechanics. Contests start at the local level and if you do well enough you can compete at state and national conventions. CDEs help give students real-life experiences in dif
    ferent career endeavors, not to mention they are a blast to be a part of!
  7. Advocates for Agriculture – FFA members everywhere are helping to bridge the gap between production agriculture and consumers. FFA members are the future veterinarians, scientists, farmers, animal nutritionists, Congressmen, teachers and so much more. They are going to make a positive difference in the agricultural community regardless of where the future will take them.
  8. Becoming a Part of Something Bigger – In my opinion, this is the best reason to celebrate FFA. FFA members are selfless. Chapters across the country participate in countless numbers of service projects and literacy events. Members are working hard to combat some of the biggest global challenges, including hunger. When FFA members put on that iconic corduroy jacket, there is nothing they cannot do.

At the Alliance, we are so fortunate that some of us had the opportunity to be a part of The National FFA Organization. Everyday lives are being positively impacted because of this organization and its members. I am forever thankful for the opportunities and experiences I have had through the FFA and I know thousands of other people feel the same way. This organization is helping students become lifelong advocates for agriculture.

Happy National Convention, FFA! Best of luck to the members and chapters competing in contests. Enjoy convention and all it has to offer, but remember you can always Celebrate FFA!