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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!
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    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!


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4-H got me started, FFA got me hooked

Jackson

Jackson

When I was in first grade I did enough nagging to convince my mom I should start taking horseback riding lessons. I was so excited for my first lesson that I wanted to wear my best outfit (little did I know it would end up completely covered in horse hair). Jackson was my horse for the hour and Mary was my teacher. I didn’t even ride at that first lesson. I had to learn all about care and safety before I could ride. Mary taught me how to care for Jackson by brushing him and cleaning his hooves. I learned how to safely lead Jackson so I would know how to be safe when working around horses. I don’t really remember my first time actually riding a horse, but I do remember what Mary taught me about care, safety and respect.

Mary, my parents and my 4-H leaders took me to horse shows and got me involved in public speaking competitions. When I got to middle school, I joined FFA. I experienced what peer pressure was. But instead of pressuring me to do something bad, I was being encouraged to run for officer positions and participate in speaking competitions. I judged horses, dairy cows, livestock and poultry. I became a State FFA Officer and gave speeches in front of hundreds. I traveled the country and eventually the world.

In FFA we wore OD and did CDEs and SAEs and went to WLC. Reflecting on my time in FFA, it’s no longer important what all of those letters mean, but what they taught me is everything. They taught me respect, determination and confidence. They gave me role models and allowed me to be a role model for others. They gave me direction and helped me learn that my skills and talents can make a positive difference in this world. They taught me to care for myself, others, animals and the land.

FFA Officer Team

2006-2007 New York State FFA Officer Team

Through these after school activities, I was developing premiere leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education. I think that’s a pretty great way for kids to spend their time. I have seen so many individuals grow and develop through these amazing youth organizations and have a positive impact on this world. My fellow state FFA officers are researching dairy cattle nutrition, researching improvements in vegetable production in drought conditions, analyzing economic conditions to help provide protein to a hungry world and teaching the next generation. What an amazing group of people making a positive difference in our world!

My grandfather recently told me he is proud of me, but he was worried about me at first. When I was so involved in 4-H and FFA, he was concerned that agriculture would be a dead end for me. He now sees it as a world of endless opportunity. Agriculture is different today than when he was growing up. It’s better; we’ve made progress and we will continue to make advances that allow us to nourish the world. 4-H got me started in agriculture and FFA got me hooked, and I hope they keep doing that to prepare students to tackle the challenges of the future.