I-CAL 2014: Days 8-10 in Japan

Editor’s Note: The International Collegiate Agricultural Leadership (I-CAL) program travels overseas to learn about global agriculture and international marketing. The group of 12 Collegiate FFA members departed the U.S. on May 20 for a 10-day tour of Japan where they engaged U.S. Embassy officials and government leaders; toured feed mills, animal markets, small farms and livestock operations; and toured food processing plants, among other activities. ICAL 2014 is made possible through support from The Grains Foundation.

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Day 8 – Albert’s farm

5/28/14

Today we had the opportunity to visit a rice farmer named Albert.

Albert showed us a friend’s rice farm that is located on a mountain side. Planting in the mountains requires terrace paddies – or multiple flooded fields built in step on a hillside that requires water to filter down from other fields. Terrace paddy farming is high risk because farmers depend upon other fields out of their control for irrigation. The limited space on the terrace makes planting and harvesting with equipment near impossible. The price of rice is continuing to drop here, making it more difficult to make it ones only source of income. However, rice from the mountains often tastes better because of the cold water used from the mountains. Continue reading

I-CAL 2014: Days 4-7 in Japan

Editor’s Note: The International Collegiate Agricultural Leadership (I-CAL) program travels overseas to learn about global agriculture and international marketing. The group of 12 Collegiate FFA members departed the U.S. on May 20 for a 10-day tour of Japan where they engaged U.S. Embassy officials and government leaders; toured feed mills, animal markets, small farms and livestock operations; and toured food processing plants, among other activities. ICAL 2014 is made possible through support from The Grains Foundation.

Day 4 – Tokyo, Hama-rikyu Gardens, Ginza Street

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5/24/14

Today we had the opportunity to sight-see around Tokyo and learn more about their cultural heritage. Japan’s culture is very unique and rich in history. We started the day off by walking from the hotel to the Emperor’s Palace which was in the center of Tokyo. The Palace was extremely beautiful surrounded by trees and colorful gardens. We walked to the hill located on the palace grounds which gave us a scenic view of Tokyo. It was exciting to be able to see an overview of the city and its many sights. Continue reading

ICAL 2014: Days 1-3 in Japan

Editor’s Note: The International Collegiate Agricultural Leadership (I-CAL) program travels overseas to learn about global agriculture and international marketing. The group of 12 Collegiate FFA members departed the U.S. on May 20 for a 10-day tour of Japan where they engaged U.S. Embassy officials and government leaders; toured feed mills, animal markets, small farms and livestock operations; and toured food processing plants, among other activities. ICAL 2014 is made possible through support from The Grains Foundation.

Day 1 – We’re in Japan!

The ICAL 2014 group prior to departure.

The ICAL 2014 group prior to departure.

Our flight went really well. It was about 12-hours and during the flight we flew over the Alaskan Islands, which was pretty cool! We were on one of United Airlines’ new planes called the Dreamliner and it was phenomenal. Even the food was tasty!

We met Tommy Hamamoto, Director of the US Grains Council in Japan, at the airport and drove about 1-hr to Tokyo from Narita. It was rainy and cloudy, which seems to be a common trend here in Japan.

We drove past Disneyland, Tokyo and over a couple of waterways that led to the Pacific Ocean. It’s strange to think that we’re now on the opposite side of the ocean from the U.S. Continue reading

FFA Members Honored at 2014 White House Science Fair

Celine Patrick and Ashlee Tarro of the Sumner FFA Chapter in Washington were honored Tuesday at the White House.

Celine Patrick and Ashlee Tarro of the Sumner FFA Chapter in Washington were honored Tuesday at the White House.

Two FFA members who solved a plant infestation problem in their high school greenhouse were honored Tuesday at a White House event for students who excel in science.

Celine Patrick, 15, of Lake Tapps, Wash., and Ashlee Tarro, 15, of Auburn, Wash., are members of the Sumner High School FFA chapter in Sumner, Wash. Both were invited to the 2014 White House Science Fair that celebrates the accomplishments of student winners of a broad range of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) competitions throughout the U.S.

This year’s event includes a specific focus on girls and women who have excelled in STEM and inspired the next generation with their work. Continue reading

National Ag Day: 8 agriculture facts you probably didn’t know

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Happy National Ag Day!

Today, March 25, we’re celebrating along with the Agriculture Council of America a day geared to recognize the abundance provided by agriculture. National Ag Day is all about celebrating and recognizing the contributions agriculture makes to our everyday lives.

Why celebrate and recognize? Well, the organizers explain that pretty well:

Agriculture provides almost everything we eat, use and wear on a daily basis. But too few people truly understand this contribution. This is particularly the case in our schools, where students may only be exposed to agriculture if they enroll in related vocational training.

By building awareness, the Agriculture Council of America is encouraging young people to consider career opportunities in agriculture.

Obviously, these goals fit in perfectly with the mission of FFA to make a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education.

In the spirit of National Ag Day, we developed a list of agriculture facts that you may not know. Check them out:

Continue reading

#Borlaug100: Who was Norman Borlaug?

Dr. Norman Borlaug is a popular name this week. But who exactly is Dr. Borlaug?

Before we get too deep into his biography and impact, just consider this: Dr. Norman E. Borlaug is one of only three Americans ever to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, the Congressional Gold Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Only Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Elie Wiesel join Dr. Borlaug on that prestigious list.

Dr. Borlaug — he passed away in 2009 — is at the forefront of conversation this week for a few reasons.

Continue reading

Answer this: How will you help feed the world?

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As we celebrate both National Ag Day and the Norman Borlaug Centennial, The World Food Prize has a question for people everywhere: How will you help feed the world?

It’s a critical question for people of all ages as we confront what World Food Prize President Amb. Kenneth M. Quinn calls “the single greatest challenge in human history: whether we can sustainably feed the 9 billion people who will be on our planet in the year 2050.”

That’s quite the task, but we know FFA members and supporters have answers to this question.

Continue reading

FFA members can win Washington D.C. trip with USFRA

Here’s a cool opportunity for FFA members from the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance.

Starting Feb. 18, FFA members are encouraged to draft and post a brief social media friendly “essay” (no more than 400 words) that starts with the writing prompt, “I am the future…” Continue reading

Celebrate CTE Superheroes During 2014 CTE Month

2014 CTE Month celebrating

2014 CTE Month

Happy 2014 CTE Month!

Spearheaded by the Association for Career & Technical Education, 2014 CTE Month encourages everyone to explore and learn the amazing accomplishments, achievements and contributions of those in career and technical education. Of course FFA — with our legions of members, former members, instructors and advisors involved in agricultural education — is large part of CTE in the U.S.

CTE celebrates cutting-edge, rigorous and relevant education — agricultural education is just one example — that is designed to prepare youth and adults for high-wage, high-skill and high-demand careers. Naturally, we’re proud to be considered one of ACTE’s Career and Technical Student Organizations.

2014 CTE Month is celebrating “CTE Superheroes” and looking to spread stories about those who made a difference in the area. Find more info about that here.

Looking for an easier way to understand and explain what CTE is? You’re in luck, thanks to the this great ACTE infographic:

Continue reading

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack Talks Farming Future With National Officers

2013-14 National FFA Officers meet with USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack

Continuing a week full of impressive meetings and amazing experiences, the 2013-14 National FFA Officer Team met another member of President Barack Obama’s cabinet this week: Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

The meeting, at the USDA Whitten Building in Washington, D.C., followed time that the team spent with Education Secretary Arne Duncan. Vilsack asked the national officers to “keep farming on the front burner” during the visit, according to the official USDA Blog:

“We are excited by the challenges you presented to us,” said FFA National Secretary Mitch Baker at the conclusion of a half-hour meeting of National FFA officers with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack at the USDA Whitten Building earlier this week. Continue reading