While many of us have our own set of difficulties conforming to our “new normal,” I wanted to highlight a special group of people going through this difficult time — FFA members, and especially the seniors. While the Senior Class of 2020 will forever hold a special place in our hearts, I wanted to take a moment to take a deeper look into their current situation — the good and the bad. We are #FFAstrong yesterday, today, and in the future.
While we all struggle to see exactly what our future looks like given these times, FFA members are also anxiously awaiting the future. A major question on many members’ minds is what will State Convention look like? Imagine being a state officer and at the age of nearly 20 years old, you have to make decisions just like a CEO of a major company. State officers and the state associations want to ensure that members still get some of the experience that they deserve during this year, regardless of how unconventional or unique of a form it may come in.
FFA members are missing many elements of the second semester, which also coincide with major FFA events. Students said they miss bonding with their chapter and making memories that should have lasted a lifetime. Major events are being canceled like the banquets, CDE/LDEs, State Convention, and many “lasts” they would have celebrated with the seniors. Seniors are also missing out on giving retirement speeches and may not have the opportunity to walk with their FFA cords at graduation.
In addition, many FFA members are unable to continue their SAEs due to certain circumstances. For example, one student’s SAE was working with food retail, and that business has since shut down, resulting in a pause in their project. The major reason students had to press pause on their SAE is due to school closures — students who utilized school resources no longer have access to their project.
Other issues for FFA members for the rest of the year include figuring how to elect officers online, feeling the financial impact of not being able to show their livestock, having to put FFA aside to be an online learner, and realizing the annual plant sale has no venue. However, in the darkest of times, people will shine in the brightest of ways.
Caroline Sayers from the Pulaski County FFA Chapter in Virginia said, “We have worked so hard to grow these plants and now our advisors are having to do an online plant sale. We have been working hard to grow these flowers and clean up our shop so we can sell them. It breaks my heart knowing that we don’t get to see our hard work fully pay off. But there is good in everything and we will have next year to come back better and stronger.”
Even though the students may not be able to finish the semester as they expected, they haven’t given up on FFA — and FFA hasn’t given up on them. FFA is a home away from home for many students, and the door is always open, even if it is virtually.
According to the National FFA Organization, “The 2019-20 National FFA Officer Team is helping members by connecting via Facebook Live daily. On Fridays, National FFA Secretary Kourtney Lehman shares new things she has learned during this time — and then challenges other FFA members to learn new skills as well. Recently, she learned sign language, modeling part of the FFA motto, Doing to Learn, and the organization’s stance on inclusion. She then challenged other members to learn sign language as well. Her video can be seen here.
One example of Living to Serve is educating younger populations. Corrina Larson, with the Columbus FFA Chapter in Wisconsin, said, “We had elementary reading scheduled for national ag week, but now we’re filming ourselves reading books and sending them to elementary teachers to use. We also are filming virtual SAE tours for them too!”
To help show our support, we would like to start a challenge for all FFA members. We challenge every FFA member, current or alum, to post a photo with you and your FFA jacket with #FFAstrong in the description. Feel free to find your favorite FFA memory, tag your friends, and share your FFA story! Let’s cover our social media channels in support of FFA. We are in this together!
AGDAILY is one of the nation’s top sources for FFA news, features, and videos. See everything on the site, as well as a state-by-state posts, by clicking here.