A suburban child’s first experience with agriculture typically happens during fair time. While many populate the fairgrounds for the rides and food, the livestock barn is also a huge attraction, as well as a first glimpse into the world of agriculture for some children with no rural background. As members of FFA, you are not only becoming a future farmer yourself; you are also inspiring a new generation of future farmers after you. These Future Farmers of America just might be those wide-eyed, curious children walking the lanes of the livestock barn in awe of the sights and smells they might be experiencing for the first time.
Always keep this in mind and take advantage of this power and image you have. Your blue jackets mean so much more than just a required show outfit — they are perhaps the most recognized form of advocacy for agriculture towards young children.
The most crucial method to saving our industry is through the education of future generations raised in a society that is far removed from the farm. With your far reaching influence, and involvement in your community, you are educating the minds of kids who otherwise may grow up not knowing the importance of how their food got to their tables. More importantly, your position allows you to make a difference in your communities for those children who may feel lost and not sure where they belong in this world.
FFA gives you a sense of purpose, doesn’t it?
Just think about a child who needs to find that purpose in their lives, what can you do to influence them? If you look at the list of prominent former members of FFA, you’ll find that those people went on to be inspirational, and give children a sense of purpose in their lives, on a much larger scale. Some became bigger influences in agriculture as CEO’s of companies or presidents of their state Farm Bureaus; others went into entertainment, sports or politics, and even Presidents of the United States are on the list. Think of the people they encouraged to get out and do something inspirational themselves? They used their image and influence to do so. You don’t have to have celebrity status to do the same. In fact, that list should include every one of you who have given someone a chance to learn about agriculture. FFA provides you with the skill to lead and have a substantial impact on any level.
Not only is that impact crucial to the industry, it’s important in growing the organization. When you participate in FFA, you are forever a part of an important piece that helps mold and shape the organization. Each individual story can reach different people.
Think of the amount of people that attend state and county fairs each year, each one of those people is a potential member or Future Farmer. You may focus on the the small things that entail being an FFA member, but the big picture is much more fascinating! Becoming an officer, showing an animal, participating in any way greatly impacts the agricultural industry. Don’t be afraid to share that story and reach out to an audience that goes beyond rural communities.
The FFA motto is, “Learning to do, doing to learn, earning to live, living to serve.” You all know this by heart and it means something different to each of you. “Living to serve,” is, personally, the most important part of the motto as far as children are concerned. You not only live to serve your community by participating in events and fundraisers, you also live to serve by the people you inspire.
Agriculture is a serving industry, and creating a dream in a child to eventually join FFA or become a farmer is the best way to serve. When you graduate and get out into the workforce, your awards and titles won’t speak the most about your legacy, your ability to advocate, to help feed the world, and influence young minds will be your greatest legacy, and it all started with your involvement in FFA.
Markie Hageman is a senior, majoring in agribusiness, at Fort Hays State University. She is actively involved in include her state Cattlemen’s Association, Young Farmers chapter, and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.