National FFA Week beginning with George Washington’s Birthday and is filled with opportunities for FFA to showcase and celebrate our accomplishments, abilities, and contributions our communities. Whether it is hosting a teacher appreciation breakfast, conducting “Ag Olympics”, speaking to different community groups, or coming together around a service project this past week included it all. Across the country, over 540,000 FFA members were not only challenged to think about what is it that they believe in, but also how they make choices based on their beliefs. Our team had the chance to see how FFA members, students, teachers, supporters, and communities in six different states are living out their beliefs for an entire week.
Arriving in Mississippi it was evident how important agriculture, agricultural education and FFA are to the entire state with agriculture being its number one industry. All the state officers and I were introduced on the House and Senate floors in the capital and received a standing ovation after the president, Harrison Lang, delivered a short address. The support did not stop there as over 670 people arrived at 6:30 am for the 34th annual Legislative and Sponsors breakfast. The State Officer team and Junior State Officer team put on a professional banquet celebrating the past year and recognizing many who allow the over 4,000 FFA members to continue to live out their beliefs.
So many memories from the week: grabbing dinner with the Lafayette FFA chapter members and the stories; Ag in the Classroom with the Junior State officer team; Clarkdale, Starkville Millsaps, Nettleton, Potts Camp, Byhalia with enthusiastic students engaged in improving themselves to improve their world; a timber mill and poultry farm tour; dinner with the Leake Central chapter and community; Mantachie agriculture program with their meat processing and sorghum molasses manufacturing; and the South Panola visit concluding with Alumni meeting. Spending a week with Harrison, Jessica, Kristen, Logan, Mrs. Kristy Camp, Mrs. Melissa Higdon, and Mrs. Nina Crutchfield as well as Colton and Jonathan was a bonus for the week! Thanks for the southern hospitality and for sharing your passions! Inspirational!
How many people can say their plane has landed on the top of a small mountain? As I looked out over West Virginia’s landscape, I knew that I was going to learn a thing or two about agriculture in a more geographically diverse state. Mr. Nathan Taylor, West Virginia’s Executive Secretary and Frank Saldana with National FFA were my two travel companions as I spent a whole week celebrating National FFA Week in West Virginia.
My favorite memory from the week was working with the Hampshire County FFA members and the FFA members from the West Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind. When witnessing the two groups work together, I can proudly say I have never seen such understanding, cooperation, and honest interest come from so many students from different backgrounds. There are many neat adventures from the week, here are a few: Dinner at the Flying W with Mineral County FFA members; visits at South Harrison, Gilmer, Mason, Wirt, Robert C. Byrd, and Ravenswood High Schools; Watching students succeed at the highest of levels at the Ripley FFA Banquet; Witness over 350 FFA members and supporters, including the Commissioner of Agriculture and his entire staff, attend the Friends of FFA Banquet. This week was beyond incredible and I will never forget the new friends and family I have become a part of in West Virginia. It has definitely re-affirmed that “I Believe”.
FFA Week 2012 was a week of “firsts” – first time in the Atlantic Ocean, first time in a Wawa convenience store, first adventure with Delaware FFA, and first time in the nation’s first state. Delaware is the second-smallest state in the union, with only three counties! Being from Idaho, I didn’t expect to find much agriculture on the East coast, but I learned fast. Delaware agriculture is an 8 billion dollar industry! Remember it only has 3 counties? Well, 2 of those counties rank in the top 10 counties in the nation in agriculture production per acre! Delaware is a state that believes in agriculture.
Delaware is also home to 8,400 agriscience students. During FFA week, I witnessed members exhibit their beliefs in community, student potential, and leadership. Smyrna FFA awarded new members the Greenhand Degree, complete with green paint. Milford FFA brought together local supporters for a community dinner. The Delaware FFA Foundation also hosted an appreciation luncheon for loyal supporters. There are over 8,400 students studying agriscience in Delaware. I will never forget learning from them during FFA Week 2012. Delaware FFA members can say “I Believe” with pride.
My limited interpretation of Indiana stemmed from the big city of Indianapolis, home to our convention and the National FFA Center, before FFA Week 2012. After traveling the state, I am astounded by the beauty of its farmsteads, dependence of its economy upon agriculture, and the passion of FFA members across the state. I was lucky to kick the week off early by attending Leadership Development Workshops and giving a keynote at the banquet. During LDW, state officers hosted over 200 students at the state camp in Trafalgar for three days of learning and growing. One of my favorite parts of the week was getting to experience reflections Saturday night. It was a time for students, as well as myself, to assess where we are in life and decide what direction we are going.
Between seeing my first wind turbine to an Amish community first hand and our nation’s largest duck farm to Ag Olympics with Tri-County FFA, the experience is one I will never forget. Monday morning brought an opportunity to be a part of WISHTV’s morning broadcast spreading the message of FFA Week and the good news of our organization. Later in the day, I caught a glimpse of the true meaning of FFA Week as we helped the Seeger FFA Chapter serve 134 families through a mobile food back. The service trend continued throughout the week as the Columbus, South Newton, and Warsaw FFA chapters served a teacher/sponsor appreciation breakfast in Official Dress. South Newton FFA conducted convocation and Lakeland FFA hosted a career fair to introduce middle school and 5th graders to FFA as potential members in the future. In addition to bowling night with the new Purdue Collegiate FFA Chapter, Columbus, Lebanon Middle, South Newton, Tri-county, and Warsaw FFA welcomed chapter visits. Above anything else, seeing the difference FFA continues to make in the lives of its members is the greatest joy I have experienced!
Missouri FFA members know how to celebrate National FFA Week! From camo day to drive your tractor to school day to muddiest truck day to church in official dress, we saw members showing pride and enthusiasm for agricultural education and FFA in some pretty unique ways. The week started off with a bang at Crowder Community College, talking with PAS members. It was evident after that first meeting that Missouri FFA members are especially serious about SAE and careers in agriculture. This message carried throughout visits with Wheaton, Miller, Pierce City, Avilla, Monett, East Newton, Diamond, Neosho, Pleasant Hope, Buffalo, Logan-Rogersville, Mansfield, Ava, Aurora, Clever, Marionville, Purdy, Cassville, Exeter, McDonald County, Mount Vernon, Sarcoxie, Seneca, Southwest, Verona, Bronaugh, Sheldon, Liberal, and Golden City.
Missouri is home to just over 25,000 FFA members, and the pride they hold for our organization is incredible. Mr. Steven Rogers, Missouri FFA State Staff; Mr. Craig Frederick, National FFA LPS Specialist; and Ms. Tina Paris, National FFA Logistics Coordinator were awesome to travel with throughout the week. During the week, we visited 19 schools to speak with area FFA members, speaking to just over 2600 FFA members in all. Some recreational activities FFA members in Southwest Missouri take part in to celebrate National FFA Week are Donkey Basketball (Pleasant Hope, MO), a teacher dairy cow milking contest (Mansfield, MO), and teacher appreciation dinners. Throughout the week, it was evident that Missouri FFA members BELIEVE in agriculture, agriculture education, FFA, and most importantly in the role they will play in the future of our industry. Thank you Missouri for one of the best experiences I have ever had in a blue jacket!
I grew up watching John Wayne and western movies with my Grandpa. This week as I was driving down the road I could not help but look out the window and see a familiar landscape that I once dreamed of on a TV. FFA week in Wyoming is one of my favorite FFA memories. Wyoming has the lowest population of any our states; agriculture is their number 3 most profitable industry. With a smaller group of people, and a huge influence of agriculture, FFA is well known, and well respected in Wyoming. This was easy to see through my travels across the state.
We began the week with the Sheridan Chapter were we ate dinner, watched a movie, and toured the town including the famous King Ropes. Next the State and National officer team dominated in the Buffalo Ag Day Olympics. Kaycee was our following stop, almost every Kaycee student is an FFA member! The Casper Chapter put on stick horse rodeo that was a great time. We watched a regional creed speaking contest, delivered workshops to Chugwater, the smallest school in the state as well Cheyenne the largest school. Even the Governor and other legislative officials were happy to celebrate FFA week with us!
This is just a glimpse into the wonderful activities surrounding National FFA Week. Thank you to everyone who truly used the week to display how weBelieve!