FFA Q&A: Do You Need Global Awareness to Succeed in Agriculture?

Michael Rouse, the vice president of diversity, philanthropy and community affairs and president of Toyota U.S.A. Foundation, has been with Toyota for 34 years. In 2002 he met with the director of the National FFA Foundation and the National FFA Officers and was impressed by their presence and the statistics and stories they shared. Rouse then became intimately involved in strategies to diversify FFA and has been a key player in the FFA Diversity Project sponsored by Toyota since its inception. Here is a video of some of the great things Rouse and Toyota have supported. We spoke to Rouse to find out why global awareness is so important to students and their future.

FFA:  Why is it important for students to have global experience?

Michael Rouse: Whether they have global experience or not, the globe is coming to America and to them. Continue reading

National FFA Convention & Expo named one of top 25 fastest-growing events in country


In recognition of its rapid growth in size, attendance and exhibit space, the National FFA Convention & Expo has been named one of the top-growing expo events in the country by Expo Magazine.

Our convention and expo draws more than 56,000 FFA members, alumni, teachers, school administrators and agriculture industry representatives from throughout the country, and more than 400 exhibitors. The four-day event is one of the largest student gatherings in the nation and has been an annual event for FFA since 1928, the year the organization was founded.

At the Expo, FFA members are able to meet company representatives, learn about their operations and get answers to their questions about companies and their roles in the agriculture industry. Many large corporations exhibit at the event, including Ford, John Deere, the U.S. Army, Dodge, Monsanto, Toyota, Case IH and more.

From 2011-12, the Expo’s square footage of exhibitor space grew by 14 percent as did overall revenue from the sale of exhibit space. Attendance grew also, rising from 53,000 attendees in 2011 to more than 56,300 last year.

“Exhibitors at the National FFA Convention & Expo are an important part of the process that transforms FFA members into productive, goal-oriented and industry-dedicated individuals,” said National FFA Organization CEO Dr. Dwight Armstrong. “Today’s FFA members are the future of agriculture. Our Expo exhibitors help FFA members learn more about the industry as a whole through their presence and engagement.”

This year’s Expo will span more than 290,000 square feet of space inside Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, Ky.

The top five fastest-growing shows in 2012, according to Expo Magazine, were the International Consumer Electronics Association, 2012 Institute of Food Technologists Annual Meeting & Food Expo, Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo, Couture and Coverings 2012. Others making the top 25 were the Global Petroleum Show , National Restaurant Association, New York Comic Con, the National Rifle Association’s Annual Meeting and Exhibits and the World Dairy Expo.

We will be honored with an award at the 2013 Excite Awards Luncheon on June 19.

National officers visit sponsors and supporters in California


We hopped off the plane at LAX to discover that southern California is full of warm sunshine, beautiful beaches, and dedicated FFA supporters.


Toyota Motor Sales welcomed us to their national headquarters that supports more than 5,000 jobs in Torrance, California and an additional 250,000 nationwide.  Did you know that Toyota trucks are made here in the U.S.? This company is looking for talented young people who value communication, teamwork, and diversity…sounds like FFA members!  We are thankful to Toyota for providing scholarship, diversity, and convention opportunities for FFA members for more than 35 years!

Continue reading

Konichiwa! An update from the National Officers from Japan…

The National FFA Officer Team  has spent 4 great days in Japan!

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Day 1

After a 13 hour flight we arrived in Japan. Shortly after arriving we met Mr. Chidani, the host for our trip. Mr. Chidani is the FFJ advisor. FFJ stands for Future Farmers of Japan, which is a youth agriculture organization in Japan similar to the FFA.

Mr. Chidani took us to an authentic Japanese steakhouse where we got to put our chopsticks skills to use.

Day 2

Due to jet lag we all woke up a little earlier than normal. (We are currently 14 hours ahead of the Eastern Time Zone)

We spent most of our day in Tokyo and the surrounding area. One interesting fact about Tokyo is that with 127 million inhabitants, it is the largest city in the world. It spans over 772 square miles.

Our first stop in Tokyo was the Shinto Shrine. It is a historic landmark in Tokyo. Just like most of the landmarks in Japan it is older than our countries existence!

After touring the shrine we traveled to a farm in a suburb of Tokyo. At this farm we had the chance to make our own mochi and sushi rolls. Mochi is Japanese sticky rice that is made by smashing a large bowl of rice with a giant wooden hammer. After making the mochi we were able to try out our finished product with dipping sauces made from red beans, soybean meal and radishes.  We were also able to create our own sushi rolls and try them out as well.

Day 3

We began our day at the U.S. Embassy. At the embassy we met with officials who specialized in agriculture and government relations. We were able to learn more about Japanese agriculture and how the U.S. works with Japan on trade relations. It was an exciting day to visit the embassy because Japan just announced that they were opening their markets to under 30 months old beef. This will allow 95 % of our beef cuts to be eligible for the Japanese market. Check it out in the link below:


After the embassy we walked over to meet with representatives of Mitsui. Mitsui is a $109 Billion company in Japan that has a Food and Retail Division. We were eager to hear more about the company because Mitsui sponsors our experience in Japan through a special project of the National FFA Foundation. Mitsui hosted a reception for us and the young professionals in the company. It was awesome to meet young professionals from another country who shared similar interests and passions as us.


Day 4

Today we visited Toyota Motor Company. Toyota is a huge sponsor of FFA. During our visit we were able to learn more about Toyota’s operations in the U.S. and abroad. We were very interested in the culture that Toyota’s plants have. The company uses a motto called “Kaizen”. Kaizen is a mindset to seek small continuous improvement all of the time. Toyota uses this to better their business. Where is a time that you could use Kaizen?

The rest of our day was spent touring Tokyo. This included a visit to a Buddhist temple and shopping at the nearby markets. We were able to grab a few gifts for home and grab some dinner for the evening.

Overall the first four days of the trip have been amazing. We have been able to experience things like making mochi that we have never experienced before. However, it has certainly taken us some time to get a feel for the culture and lifestyle here in Japan. We have had to choose to step out of our American comfort zone to fully experience things in the Japanese culture. Although we have traveled thousands of miles, this experience has reminded us that stepping out of our comfort zone is also something that we can work on in the states. How can you step out of your comfort zone in your life to experience growth and improvement?

To be continued…

2012-13 National FFA Officer Team

Enhancing Diversity in Agricultural Education

Originally started in San Antonio, Texas the FFA Enhancing Diversity project now focuses on three schools in the Atlanta, Georgia area.

The grants given through the project provide resources that will enhance student performance, teacher participation, teacher training and improve the quality of agricultural education programs.

In this video, teachers and students from Macon County High School talk about how the project has made a difference for them and their school.

The FFA Enhancing Diversity project is sponsored by Toyota.