Maine, once known primarily for ship building and paper products, as well as agriculture and fishing, has experienced a recent shift in industry economy. However, the Pine Tree State still produces more paper, farms more wild blueberries, and catches more lobster than most states combined. The Maine FFA association is following suit with their state — while the state chapter may be small in stature, they are strong in promoting their state’s $763 million dollar industry.
“Many may not realize that Maine FFA may be small in numbers but we have some amazing FFA members from across our state that are so passionate for agriculture and agriculture education,” said Dayna McCrum, 2015-2017 Maine FFA State President. “Serving on a state officer team that is so small you truly get the opportunity to sit down with our members and get to know why they are interested in FFA and how we as state officers can help them along their journey.”
For McCrum, FFA is part of her family history. Her great grandfather was the FFA advisor at her local chapter. Both her father and uncle were state officers and a cousin even ran for national office. McCrum herself has served two terms as State President and plans to be active FFA alumni member at Texas A&M this fall.
“FFA you could say was in my blood, and something that I was already a part of. But I think I stayed with FFA so much and continued to grow in the organization is because of the rich traditions,” McCrum said. “No matter if you are from a small farming community, like myself, or from New York City, FFA gives you the same opportunities.”
The 400-member, 14-chapter organization has tried to hone in on opportunities that will have the most impact for their members as well as the community. According to Doug Robertson, Maine FFA State Advisor, the state FFA association actively promotes the Washington Leadership Conference program by providing attendee scholarships and this year obtained endowment to help support some participant costs there.
Maine FFA has also been active educating the public about the state’s agriculture industry through events such as the Agricultural Trades Show, Maine Agriculture Day, and National Agriculture Day, as well as participating in the PreK-4 “Read ME Agriculture” program managed by Maine Agriculture in the Classroom. When timing of legislative sessions permit, Maine FFA State Officers speak to the Education Committee of the state legislature.
McCrum said this she is most proud of the Sanford FFA chapter. This past year the chapter took first place in the Nursery Landscape Career Development Event and had the opportunity to go to National Convention and compete.
“Mrs. Hoagland has done an amazing job teaching these students in her Landscape and Horticulture classes. I have seen over the last two years serving as State President how much she really cares about the future and success of her students,” McCrum said. “It was amazing to come back and here of all the fun, unique, and educational things that they participated in and I’m so glad that they got that opportunity.”
Robertson said Maine FFA’s goal for 2017 is try to spread the word about the opportunities FFA can bring to students, as well as membership eligibility to many schools throughout the state. He also hopes current FFA members will share their experiences to recruit more members.
“Looking back, they should realize how much they have grown/gained through FFA and hopefully they can try to make sure that other students receive the same benefits,” Robertson said.
McCrum echoes Robertson’s comments as she plans to give back to her state organization even after her time in office is done.
“I see the future of Maine FFA growing in the future. We have a number of potential state officer candidates for the following year, and many potential new FFA chapters starting along our coast. I am so excited to see the diversity that this new group will bring to our state and how it will help our state grow,” McCrum said. “I hope to be a guidance figure for FFA members and future state officers to help them along their journey. A goal of mine is to see our membership grow in the coming year and to have a larger state officer team to lead our state.”