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Consider this quote from Abe Lincoln

"America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves."



They say that it is an organization that has long outlived its usefulness and will die sooner than later as it follows the eventual collapse of the family farm system across this country. They have said so for years, the pundits and observers, the school boards and town’s people who are now generations removed from the farm. They tout that money spent on Agriculture Education is money wasted and that FFA programs that they continue to refer to as that “Future Farmers group”, are just another school activity that drains tax dollars without benefit to the community.

My friends, they aren’t just wrong, they are dead wrong. In today’s educational environment where the push is to find ways to spend money and improve students in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) area not only does Agricultural Education excel in these areas, it has been doing so since the founding of FFA in 1928. Spend time with a modern agriculture worker and see where each of these areas has become increasingly important in their day to day operations?

They said FFA would die with the family farm, especially when it was time to rebrand the Future Farmers of America, to simply FFA. But not only has it not died, it has grown in leaps and bounds. For those who think the FFA is simply cows and plows it might be interesting to learn that the largest FFA chapter in the United States is in suburban Chicago where the waiting list to get into the ag program is longer than most Ivy League school admissions lists. FFA continues to grow in leaps and bounds and is recognized by students within and outside of the organization as the premier leadership growth opportunity within any high school.

In small town Iowa the kid who throws bales of hay all summer tends also to be the star of the football team, and probably plays basketball and participates not only in track, but probably speech, drama and in the FFA. Let’s be real frank here folks. The caliber of players in our small time high schools is good, however, less than 1% of students involved in athletics at the high school level will ever be talented enough to play at the Division I level and beyond. However, FFA members, not only excel in the classroom, they generally succeed in college and industry once they enter the work force. It’s also helpful to mention the over $14 million dollars in scholarships available to FFA members for higher education.

Although all of these things are important and when we as the public see a young man or young lady wearing those blue jackets, we know they are part of the largest student lead organization in the world, it is the intangible that makes FFA so important to young people. At my age, being involved in the FFA Alumni has given me the opportunity to work with a new generation of young people, most of whom were born long after I wore a blue jacket for the last time. I see in them, the same drive and wide awake enthusiasm for the future. Over the last thirty years I’ve turned back to those connections made in FFA time and time again, and even today the friendships I made twenty-five years ago are still the most important and closely held friendships I’ve ever had.

So as FFA members across the land celebrate National FFA Week, celebrate with them, give them a hand, and encourage them on their journey, for they are the future of agriculture in this country and will continue to feed the world for generations to come. And as for you and I, old FFA members who have long outgrown our jackets, I encourage you to get involved with your local Alumni (although you don’t have to have been a member to be a part of the Alumni) and I leave you with this thought. “You may outgrow the blue jacket, but you will never outgrow the experience.

See you next week…remember, we’re all in this together.