To date there are more than a half-million FFA members across the U.S.
I am fortunate to not only be one of those members, but to also serve as the 2014–15 Wisconsin FFA vice president.
I will be attending the University of Kentucky to major in Elementary Education. I grew up on a small beef farm between Platteville and Lancaster with my parents and older brother.
Many members do not come from a production background, but FFA has been a key component in helping me and other FFA members grow as young adults.
It is with great excitement that I write this article for National FFA Week Feb. 21–28. National FFA Week is a special time meant to highlight not only the FFA and all of our members, but all of agricultural education and the agricultural industry.
FFA is a premier youth leadership organization centered on agricultural education. As a Wisconsin FFA officer I have the privilege of traveling the state serving as an ambassador for Agricultural Education and FFA to represent more than 250 agricultural education programs and 19,100 FFA members across Wisconsin.
This year we are celebrating a 30-year membership high for Wisconsin FFA, and the state theme is “Target Success, Take Action.” This theme was selected because we want FFA members to reach new levels in their lives by setting goals for themselves while taking advantage of their opportunities in order to become successful young community citizens.
The success starts from what students are exposed to in middle school and high school. Agricultural education allows students to learn about new and upcoming innovations while preparing them to be college and career ready. In fact, according to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, agricultural education students in 2014 who took three or more classes in an agricultural pathway graduated at a rate of 98.3 percent, compared to an 88.2 percent graduation rate for those without any course in career and technical education.
How does this happen? It is through the countless hands-on opportunities that students receive in all of agricultural education — classroom instruction, supervised agricultural experiences (work based learning), and in FFA. FFA members attend leadership conferences, participate in speaking contests or an agriscience fair, or compete in career development events (a team competition focusing on career readiness) where students are pushed to challenge themselves. This can be realized through the FFA motto: Learning to Do, Doing to Learn, Earning to Live, Living to Serve.
Students and chapters alike are encouraged to be active participants in their communities, through leadership and service activities. Service activities have included helping the local food pantry, participating in highway cleanups, or even taking part in the “Rally to Fight Hunger” at the Wisconsin State FFA Convention. The excitement for service is instilled in FFA members.
By 2020 more than 132,000 workers will be needed to fill careers in Wisconsin’s agriculture, food, and natural resource industries, according to the state Department of Workforce Development. The most important thing to remember is that agricultural education and FFA are vital to ensuring students are college- and career-ready; they will be key in the future of the agricultural industry.
Choosing to take part in FFA gives students a plan for their future. Please encourage the young adults in your life to learn more and or become more active in agricultural education classes and FFA. For more information visit wisconsinffa.org.