Howdy y’all! I have spent the past few days in The Lonestar State thanking supporters like BNSF, Dean Foods, and Allflex who make scholarships and career development events available to us FFA members! I was also blessed to spend an afternoon with the Lanier FFA chapter officers (Sarah, Daniel M., Devereux, Diana, Daniel S., Mercedes, and Tram) who take advantage of these FFA programs just like you! These students attended their first National FFA Convention & Expo last fall, and Daniel, a chapter officer, received his own FFA jacket at the Somos FFA, We are FFA celebration of Latino heritage in agricultural education. They returned with a passion to get every student in their school involved in FFA, but it seemed like there were some people who were getting left out. They weren’t content to let their classmates miss out on a life-changing experience.
They identified barriers and created solutions.
“I don’t know what you do.” With a large school campus, some Lanier High School students didn’t enroll in agriculture classes because they simply didn’t know what to expect. Lanier agricultural education students decided to inform them in an unforgettable way. During lunch, FFA members studying entomology served candy made with insects to their classmates! Who knew school could be so fun? How can you give your classmates a peek into “a day in the life of an ag student and FFA member?”
“I don’t have the resources.” Some students felt like they didn’t belong because they didn’t have animals, money, or land to start a supervised agricultural experience. Lanier FFA now has rabbits, swine, chickens, and a turkey on campus! Students can work summer hours for pay in the vegetable gardens, and the chapter hosts a large plant sale every year that students take ownership of from seed to sale! Did I mention this is in the capitol city of Austin? How can you create experiential learning opportunities at your school?
“My family or friends just don’t get it.” Students who were interested in taking an ag class and becoming FFA members had difficulty communicating this to family and friends who didn’t have the same experiences or spoke a different language. Lanier FFA advisors began offering scholarship applications and supervised agricultural experience contracts in Spanish so parents could fully understand the benefits of FFA and Lanier FFA members hosted an informational night to share what they were accomplishing. How can you help those closest to you understand what FFA means to you?
The barriers vary across different states, communities, and backgrounds, but each chapter has them. Who gets left out of your chapter? Is it someone who is different from you in the place they live, the grades they make, the job they work, or the friends they hang around? Invite them to your next FFA activity; help them sign up for an agriculture class next semester, or spend a Saturday working with them on a personal project.
Include others and make an impact! Do you have an idea to involve more students in your FFA chapter? Let’s help each other! Comment below!