FFA (also known as Future Farmers of America) is the largest student organization in the world. It has members in all 50 states, as well as Puerto Rico. Every November at the National Convention, the hosting city (of late, Indianapolis) is overcome by the “Blue Tide.” It’s an endearing term used to describe a wave of thousands upon thousands upon thousands of FFA members that flood the streets and convention centers. The blue jacket is an icon. It’s a promise.
FFA is still here. It’s still strong. And this week is National FFA Week.
Are you well-versed in your local FFA chapter’s activities? Look into it. These kids are getting into the world and leaving a mark. One of the cornerstone ideals of FFA is the importance of community service. Chapters are raising money for charitable causes. They’re beautifying communities. They’re holding toy and clothing and coat and food drives. They’re working for the betterment of their communities.
The students who are active in FFA are also learning valuable life skills. An SAE (supervised educational experience) takes the shape of a business venture; students take on a project (livestock, arts and crafts, communications, hobbies, anything) and must keep records of money spent, money earned, procedures, methods, and much more. These record books are intensive, detailed, and are audited for correctness. For students who intend to go into agriculture, these experiences are a chance to work with their livestock or crops. For students who may not be directly connected to ag, it’s a chance to do some career searching and experimentation. In short, these SAE’s are major lessons in career development, responsibility, and economic stability.
There are also CDE’s (career development events). These are “competitions.” They range over just about every subject. Marketing and advertising, farm trivia, mechanics, livestock judging, crops judging, agronomy, dairy judging, parliamentary procedure, business, debate, speech…for every career, there is an FFA CDE that can somehow teach valuable skills.
All of these experiences, everything these children do, is aimed towards creating better people. It’s not just about farming; it’s about the future. It’s about skills and careers and integrity and strength of character. A perfect explanation of this is the FFA motto:
“Learning to Do, Doing to Learn, Earning to Live, Living to Serve.”
Maybe I’m just biased. Maybe some people won’t understand my passion and respect for the organization. I spent my senior year of high school as a founding chapter president. That one academic year of involvement changed my entire outlook. The skills I learned went deeper than knowing about crops or livestock. I learned people skills, I made countless professional phone calls, I learned about my professional goals and my personal views. To put it plainly, I learned about myself.
There is my pitch, my official pro-FFA post. There may be more FFA-related posts this week, as I continue to research the activities of groups at the local, regional, state, and national levels.
As I said before, if you’ve never gotten involved in FFA, look into it. Check out local chapters and see what the group is up to in your community. For more information on National FFA Week, check out the website here.
Happy National FFA Week, everyone! Go Blue and Gold!