FFA members are known to go above and beyond, not only in their community, at school, or on the farm, but also in terms of creating a lifestyle. FFA members — future, current, and alumni — learn many things, but one of the most important is the ability to jump in. They know how to be help to others around them, without even being asked.
That is exactly what Mackenzie Craig with the Alexandria FFA Chapter in Minnesota has done. She had her eye on the prize — her state degree, but until that time came, she put everything into her FFA experience. It all goes back to the day she joined the Alexandria FFA chapter her freshman year.
“In the town of Alexandria, farm kids or agriculture enthusiasts are not the majority of the population,” Mackenzie said. “Growing up, I was a part of the small population that grew up with agriculture. I knew I was a good kind of different. When I finally reached high school, I was able to join FFA.”
“Alexandria FFA and Minnesota FFA made a positive impact on my future from all the wonderful and amazing life changing opportunities the state and chapter offered. I was able to attend different state workshops, camps, region events, conventions, and leadership conferences,” Mackenzie said.
“Over the last couple years till I graduated high school, I served as a region officer, chapter offices, served on many types of committees, took part in various community service events, traveled to different parts of the state and country to discuss how we as FFA members can make a positive impact in communities. Along the way, I also made life time long friendships from people all over the state and country.”
The journey of every FFA chapter is different and one to be made by each and every member of the chapter. The Alexandria FFA Chapter gave Mackenzie the possibility to travel and see the world in with many opportunities that she was able to seize.
“My biggest journey was traveling to Washington, D.C., for a leadership camp. During all the events and places I traveled to, my biggest take away was agriculture is very diverse all across the country. Communities are in need and a small helping hand can make a huge difference in their lives, and that we as FFA members are the future and voice of agriculture. After these lessons were learned, I brought them back to my community.”
Mackenzie was able to bring back what she learned to her community by reaching out to those in need. “I knew people were in need, so I decided to make a travel box with school supplies and send it to students in Africa. The students were super happy with all the school supplies they received. My chapters small action made a huge positive difference in lives even across the world.”
While traveling and staying, Mackenzie was still a student and had to stay on top of her normal chores and homework. “While making a positive impact in agriculture and in students lives throughout the state I was able to raise my own livestock and work on a local dairy farm. I know, sounds like a super busy life balancing agriculture, school, and just life in general, but when I found out I was receiving the highest award in Minnesota as a FFA member, I knew agriculture is where my heart belongs.”
“When I first joined the Alexandria FFA chapter my freshman year in high school, I never thought I would be so passionate about the agriculture community and the positive impact I would make throughout the state. I never thought I could be the future of agriculture. From my freshman year to my senior year in high school, my life took a positive turn,” Mackenzie explained.
The Alexandria FFA Chapter works very hard to involve all of their students, no matter what the background. Each new school year, the chapter hosts a new member night and the parents are invited as well. The chapter puts on a pot luck, offering many different types of information about FFA and what the chapter does. “This activity was very interactive which made learning fun and easy while also setting positive goals for our chapter and members. For example: community service ideas, farmer appreciation, fundraisers, and activities we could do as a chapter to get to know each other.”
Another successful activity the chapter puts on is a petting zoo. Mackenzie said, “The biggest hit is the petting zoo our chapter puts on at Friday’s. The FFA members bring in animals from their farms or places and we have the public come out to the school to learn about production agriculture and also experience seeing different types of livestock’s and how they benefit our lives. On my own time I would also bring my goats, chickens, and rabbits to different classes at the high school so the students could expand their knowledge on caring for those types of livestock and basic facts about them.”
In addition to the petting zoo, Alexandria chapter has an unique call to their program. Mackenzie said, “Our chapter is the only one in the state that does an open show in the summer. This allows the community to bring in their show animals like beef, goats, and sheep and expand on their showing skills and knowledge. We have been doing this event for a couple years and expands each year! This event has allowed our chapter to promote agriculture in our community, allowed us to network with local businesses, and potentially peak a interest for incoming members!”
Mackenzie has advice for the future and current members of FFA. “Step out of your comfort zone and take baby steps towards going all in for your chapter. To my fellow active FFA members, go beyond and go all in. You as FFA members will decide what’s possible, but you are the future! Make that positive impact in your communities. FFA can help you find your passion. I know it did that for me. It shaped me into who I am today. An agriculture enthusiast!”