In a world full of strangers, we often try and relate on common issues. During National FFA Convention & Expo we are surrounded by thousands of strangers, but all have something in common — FFA. However, what happens when we are surrounded by strangers who don’t know anything about the National FFA Organization? They may ask, “What is FFA?” That is almost like asking, “What is love?” You know in your heart of hearts what it is, but it can be hard to describe.
How do you describe your FFA family to a stranger? The love, passion, and admiration you have for one chapter, one state organization, and one national organization is overwhelming. You will probably ask them how much time do you have for me to explain it? With such an open ended question, you really want to tell them everything about FFA, but you will have to settle for a condensed version.
So how would you define FFA to strangers? We asked a few FFA members to define what FFA is to them.
- Kenzie Johnson with the Indian Valley FFA Chapter in Ohio said, “FFA is an agricultural organization that competes in contests in different aspects of agriculture, serves the community, and builds leadership skills in all members.”
- Ethan Jackowski from Wisconsin with the Big Foot FFA Chapter said, “FFA is a leadership program based in agriculture. It educates in the sciences, business, leadership qualities, and economics used in agriculture and the business that make it up.”
- Faith Galavich with the Union Local FFA Chapter in Ohio said, “An agriculture organization, that is leadership and career success based, that also helps grow and better the community.”
- Blake Van Der Kamp with the Diamond Trail FFA chapter in Iowa said, “FFA is an intercurricular organization and activity that educates middle school, high school, and college aged students about agriculture and Agriculture, Food, & Natural Resources pathways. Through FFA, they also develop valuable skills such as leadership and communication which may transcend into their future careers.”
While explaining what FFA is, you also have to think about what FFA has done for you personally. It is not just a program, it turns into a way of life — it prepares you for your future, even if it is not directly correlating with agriculture.
This is not the FFA of the past, but of the future. Many people still believe the organization is called Future Farmers of America. However that changed in 1988. According to the national website, “FFA is not just for students who want to be production farmers; FFA also welcomes members who aspire to careers as teachers, doctors, scientists, business owners, and more. For this reason, the name of the organization was updated in 1988 after a vote of national convention delegates to reflect the growing diversity and new opportunities in the industry of agriculture.” The National FFA Organization is inclusive to all students planning for their future.
FFA is also a home away from home for so many students. The time spent working on your SAE project, traveling to competitions, learning about the future of agriculture connects you with so many students, not just in your chapter but it the surrounding ones as well. FFA is a family across all fifty states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. If you are willing to put in the time, commitment, and effort you can go so far with this organization. This is one of my favorite quotes, “It is more than a jacket, it’s a way of life, and its the best family anyone could ask for.”
Agriculture is an industry that affects everyone — everyone eats. It is so important to understand how our food is grown and transported to the consumer. Students active in FFA understand the importance of such a critical role not only in their community, but also in today’s society.
For these reasons and so many more, FFA should not be a stranger to anyone. This is a great quote to explain it all, “We aren’t just cows and plows. We are leaders and achievers, learners and servers, teams with dreams.”