About Me

Kentucky, United States
Fourth generation beef producer, wife, mother, 4-H & FFA supporter, agriculture advocate, Christian, WKU alum, love livestock shows, basketball, college football, Dallas Cowboys. All things agriculture.

Monday, February 20, 2012

National FFA Week: February 18-25, 2012

      This week is National FFA Week, and according to the FFA website this week is a time designated for FFA members to promote and educate the public about agriculture. I agree totally, and I'm so thankful for this youth organization that represents agriculture so well.     
     I did not take advantage of the opportunity I had in high school, and enroll in agriculture classes and join FFA. Even though I was a farmgirl, 4-H member, beef and tobacco producer with my family, I chose a different route in high school, looking only at college and a career in the medical field. Little did I know that by my sophomore year in college, I was missing agriculture and quickly changed my major. That background information is so you know that I'm not a product of FFA. However, I am the wife of a  agriculture education teacher and FFA advisor and I have witnessed thousands of students not only promoting and learning about agriculture, but also many non-farm students joining FFA and later pursuing careers in agriculture related fields.
     FFA, yes and 4-H, has spread the word about agriculture for decades but many still see the organization as the old stereotypical farm kid organization, and nothing could be further from the truth. Yes there are still a lot of dedicated farm kids in FFA but with a membership of 540,379 from all 50 states plus Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, there's definitely many non-farm  members.
     With an agriculture education FFA members choose their SAE (Supervised Agricultural Experience) which can range from production agriculture and environmental issues to food processes and technology, to civic organization presentations and global positioning systems. The list goes on. Conclusion, there's something for everyone! Not only do these students gain a great education and understanding of the agriculture world, they also gain the opportunity for college scholarships through their individual SAE programs.
     Leadership skills obtained from being an FFA member are priceless. Where else can you learn public speaking, sales, marketing, community service, management, writing, etc. in one organization often with one teacher? Nothing is more rewarding than meeting these students as freshman or sophomores and seeing their timidness change to confidence and authority as seniors.
     Since I've never worn one of those blue corduroy jackets, I've never had the honor of being in official dress in mid-summer 90 degree weather, with no chance of taking the jacket off for one minute. I have however, heard many students complain of being uncomfortable and counting the minutes until that jacket can come off! I have a very different opinion of that blue jacket because I've had the honor of witnessing the effects of a single person in official dress and the impression thousands of FFA members at national convention made on one person. Let me explain.
     Our daughter Ashley, as a sophomore, was honored to be accepted into the National FFA Band, and this was a year that national convention was held in Louisville, Kentucky, just an hour's drive from home. She was the first student of her high school band director to be accepted to the National FFA Band and since it was so close, she invited both her band director and school superintendent to attend a session at convention and hear the band. Her superintendent was unable to attend but her director drove to the Kentucky Exposition Center for an early session and arrived just in time to see members of Texas FFA chapters unloading buses. This  tradition included the young men standing with arms out to escort the ladies single file into the convention hall. Everyone in official dress of course. A memorable vision for anyone but especially a person first attending national convention.
     The director found his seat in the convention hall and witnessed not only the band's performance, but heard motivational speeches and saw so many positive effects of FFA, but the most memorable for him was seeing thousands of students, dressed nicely, behaving respectfully, and not seeing one tattoo or body piercing. He had a meeting to attend hours away, and he spent most of his driving time on the phone calling colleagues and the school superintendent telling of all the positive things he'd seen and how he was previously so misled by his perception of FFA, but all that changed that day. First, by a young lady making the invitation, and secondly by the overwhelming impression of thousands.
     Yes, I'm proud of each and every accomplishment of all FFA members but I'm most proud of the effects that blue corduroy jacket can have on people still today. So wear it with pride, knowing that someone is watching and as an FFA member you have the power and opportunity to promote agriculture and make a very positive impact on a single individual.

Membership information from FFA.org

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