Shout Out to National FFA Organization
This column was originally published in the April 2019 version of Louisiana Farm and Ranch magazine.
I believe in the future of agriculture.
Anyone who has spent any time in a high school ag class has heard those words and likely remembers them to this day, just as I do from my membership at Mangham High School. They begin the creed of the National FFA Organization, and it is often one of the first things new members learn.
FFA is a terrific organization that has been training up-and-coming generations of agriculturalists since 1928. Today, more than 10,000 Louisiana high school students across 51 parishes are members of FFA. It is present in 200 high schools.
Many Louisiana FFA members just wrapped up spring Career Development Events where they trained for months to learn specific skills that can help them with future careers. These spring events run the gamut of agriculture areas: from poultry, dairy, meat and livestock; to floriculture and landscaping; to electricity, small engines and welding.
Like the agriculture industry itself, FFA is evolving to meet the needs of the modern agriculture environment. It’s Leadership Development Events include classics like extemporaneous speaking and parliamentary procedure, and it has added events focused on communications, agronomy, agribusiness management and sales, and much more.
The modern workforce, both in the agriculture industry and others, needs a balance between skilled labor and those jobs that require advanced degrees. The FFA is one of the best organizations at striking that balance, which explains why it has attracted students with such a great variety of abilities and talents throughout its history.
And we must not forget the contributions of those who stand “by the owl,” our advisers and agriculture instructors who are instrumental in molding the students they teach.
Though some things have changed since my time with the club, the values of the organization that the FFA instills in our young people – honesty, perseverance and strength of character – certainly matter today as much as the day E.M. Tiffany first wrote the creed.
The FFA teaches us the values and challenges of working on a farm. We know the work won’t be easy – in fact, often times it will mean long, hot days – but we do it because we can’t imagine living any other way.
It teaches us to learn to stand on our own two feet, but to be compassionate and help those in their time of need until they, too, can work and support themselves.
It teaches us that when we put in the time and energy, we know that better days are ahead of us. It teaches us how to be leaders and to respect the leadership of those who came before us.
During my time in Congress and service on the House Agriculture Committee, I have had the privilege of meeting many of Louisiana’s members and state officers over the years. I can tell that they proudly live these values just as proudly as they don their iconic National Blue and Corn Gold corduroy jackets.
It’s because of them that I can proudly say that I do believe in the future of agriculture, and I am so appreciative of the role the National FFA Organization has played in helping them grow into the leaders of tomorrow.