Erica Baier didn’t know that much about FFA before she decided to join the organization her freshman year. Her cousins were active in it, but it wasn’t something Baier’s school in Central Iowa offered. So, when the opportunity arose to skip the last class of the day and head over to neighboring Earlham High School 20 minutes away for an ag class, Baier jumped on it.
“Knowing I wanted to remain actively involved on the farm and in helping my dad with his cattle herd, I figured some education was necessary,” Baier said.
That long-distance commitment to ag education and FFA led Baier to a long road of success within the organization. When the 2015-2016 Iowa South Central State Vice President ran for Iowa FFA President the following year and lost, she set her sights farther … nationals.
“Having gotten extremely involved at Iowa State in the meantime, it wasn’t until the fall of 2016 that I realized how much I genuinely wanted to serve students and teachers across the country — regardless of wearing a jacket or not,” Baier said.
Baier received that opportunity when she was elected to the 2017-2018 National FFA Officer Team as secretary during the 90th National FFA Convention and Expo.
Now halfway through her term Baier said she realizes just how much the students donning the jacket have in common.
“If we’re all being honest, we’re all aboard the struggle bus! But I find it so reassuring to hear stories of empowerment, overcoming challenges, crushing circumstances, and doing so as a united force in the blue corduroy,” Baier said. “It is one big family, and whether we still wear the jacket or not, having a support system like the ones found through FFA is something that I will always cherish.”
Her main goal in office is to “be better than the person you were yesterday.” Baier said this motto has not only helped direct her personally, but also to being a better leader in the organization.
And Baier says joining national office has far surpassed her expectations.
“I find it incredible to continue to meet incredible people and cultivate relationships in all of the states I’ve visited this far,” Baier said. “It’s definitely an experience that is irreplaceable and once in a lifetime.”
Baier, who plans to either enter the field of agronomy, marketing, or sales upon graduation from Iowa State, says FFA or not, students should keep their options open.
“If you get involved, travel, and take some chances, FFA will change the course of your life,” Baier said. “I went from only wanting to compete in track and field in college to finding my purpose in helping others. That is what FFA can do!”
Oh, and if you are wondering Baier’s home school? Adel DeSoto Minburn has FFA now. During her sophomore year of high school, Baier created a Living to Serve plan that encompassed bringing ag education to the Adel community and eventually helped start an agriculture program. After starting a successful ADM Ag Day with over 400 third graders, recognition from ADM leadership, and nods from the school board, the Adel DeSoto Minburn FFA Chapter chartered in May during Baier’s senior year of high school.
But as Baier points out, even if takes a little trip down to the road to join the closest FFA chapter, it’s worth it.
“There is no other organization where you walk into a classroom, a convention, or another event as complete strangers, and walk out knowing that somebody genuinely cares about you and your future,” Baier said. “That is FFA.”