Every year, FFA chapters around the country celebrate National FFA Week.
It’s a time to share what FFA is and the impact it has on members every day. Those words are taken directly from the National FFA Organization’s website.
But this week is also something those in the feed and grain industry, as well as the greater agrifood industry should also celebrate. After all, even if you aren’t an FFA alumnus, someone you work with on a regular basis who has helped you along your professional journey, probably is.
When I was in high school, we did not have a local FFA chapter. I knew about FFA because I knew some kids in neighboring school districts who were involved, but what I knew about it was very limited.
My knowledge of it grew when I was in college, and several friends and fraternity brothers had been heavily influenced by their experiences in FFA. A couple of them even continued their involvement in the organization as state officers. They were all people I felt were going to accomplish good things in their lives.
It was around that same time the organization changed its name from Future Farmers of America (which to this day I still hear people refer to it as) to the National FFA Organization.
It was changed as such because times and the agriculture industry had changed, and the organization had evolved to reflect the growing diversity and opportunities in agriculture, while still honoring the heritage of the organization.
I really got a sense of the focus of FFA during my time as a newspaper editor. The community where we lived, and some of the nearby communities in our coverage area, had strong FFA programs.
My theory was that these kids were working just as hard, if not harder, than the kids on the sports teams that got so much ink, so let’s cover what they are doing, too. The local advisor had explained to me that FFA wasn’t so much a farming organization as it was a leadership organization.
Today, my old high school now has an FFA chapter, and I have a son who is very involved in the organization. He’s already gained so much from his involvement, and he’s only a freshman. I can also see that in other friends of his who are FFA members.
Locally, this week there have been a lot of fun activities going on at the school, all with a little bit of an agricultural theme. They had a hot dog eating contest (I could have told you before it even started that one particular friend of my son’s was going to be the winner), a wheelbarrow race (won by two members of the track team), and there are some other fun and educational activities planned for later this week.
The word is getting out into the community, too. At the high school basketball game earlier this week, community members who came to watch the game took a moment to applaud the FFA members when it was announced it was FFA week.
What was cool to see is there were FFA members not only in the stands, but also on the court as players, along the sides as cheerleaders, and up on the stage as pep band members. The week will be concluded with another community activity -- a farmer and FFA member recognition breakfast.
Let’s all salute past and present FFA members. I truly believe we wouldn’t have made as many advancements in agriculture had it not been for this organization.