When I was a kid, I joined the National FFA organization because it sounded like the bomb diggity if you’re into animals, leadership, and agriculture. Which lets be honest – it is.
You may have recently seen a blog post circulating about FFA and it doesn’t portray it in the most positive light. It’s also not super accurate. But there are a lot of misconceptions about what FFA is. I remember excitedly announcing I had the opportunity to attend the National FFA Convention in Indianapolis when a classmate responded with “What is that? Like a convention for hicks?” I shrugged it off and chuckled not thinking it mattered. But today I’m going to answer that a little more thoroughly.
Who better to write about FFA than someone who was a member from middle school through the collegiate level? FFA is known for their creed and their code of ethics – which all members pride themselves in.
When I saw them grossly misrepresented I was like was not today!
Here’s a better explanation of what they actually mean.
1.”Develop my potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success.”
People that know how to effectively lead a team are few and far between – yet leadership is one of the most sought after interpersonal skills when employers are hiring. FFA is all about developing yourself to be a better person than you were yesterday. Ultimately the goal is to prepare you to be successful for a career in agriculture but these skills are applicable to whatever career you choose to pursue.
2. “Make a positive difference in the lives of others.”
When you learn to be an effective leader you can also channel this skill into the purpose of serving others. In high school we focused on making care packages for soldiers and donating food to a local soup kitchen. In our collegiate chapter at NMSU we had the opportunity to support Capricorn Kids of Capricorn, Africa by sending them on their first field trip. Being involved in agriculture FFA members are especially sensitive to the hunger problem that we face both domestically and internationally and there are several efforts coordinated both locally and nationally to make an impact (in fact through Hunger Heroes alone FFA provided over three million meals).
3. “Dress neatly and appropriately for the occasion.”
FFA members are encouraged to take pride in their appearance and look sharp for special events. This helps each member prepare to be competitive and comfortable in a professional environment in addition with identifying them with their local chapter and the national organization. They do this through official dress oftentimes. Even though they are effective furnaces in the summer and not quite warm enough in the winter I still remember running down the hall Christmas morning to try mine on. It’s an honor.
4. “Respect the rights of others and their property.”
FFA Members respect one another and build each other up to reach their goals. They believe in a supportive community and practice this in all aspects of their building their chapter. FFA members also have a healthy respect for the land and animals that they are stewards of knowing that to truly be sustainable they must do things the best way. They take steps that make them proactive in preventing a potential issue in the future to guarantee they remain viable resources.
5. “Be courteous, honest and fair with others.”
In all honesty being an active officer in high school not only helped me grow as a person but aided me in making better decisions. It taught me the importance of being fair even when we may struggle with personal bias, to be courteous even when you disagree and to be fair in how you treat others. Being in FFA also gave me the opportunity to serve as a role model for my peers and younger members in my community. I chose to be a role model because I knew my actions could impact the actions of others and I wanted to lead in a positive way.
6. “Communicate in an appropriate, purposeful and positive manner.”
Throughout utilizing parliamentary procedure at every meeting to accomplish our objectives and in many different Career Development Events we learned how to communicate in a positive way and I can guarantee you it’s purposeful. Seriously – those who know Roberts Rules of Order or have ever given a set of reasons to a livestock judge understand that these are delivered with intent. Moreover this also gave us the opportunity to justify judgments that we had made and this is incredibly important in any workplace.
7. “Demonstrate good sportsmanship by being modest in winning and generous in defeat.”
I can’t sit here and tell you that we won every competition we ever entered. That would be a lie. In fact to get great enough at a skill to win something you probably have to effectively fail a few times. Our agriculture teachers encouraged us to demonstrate good sportsmanship by clearly defining what was appropriate etiquette in any contest. You first have to learn how to lose before you can learn how to be modest in winning. It also taught me how to be a fierce competitor and is what I attribute much of the drive I experience today to be derived from. All of those long rides in the dark early morning hours and late evening practices each spring aren’t something I would trade for anything.
8. “Make myself aware of FFA programs and activities and be an active participant.”
By taking the initiative to make yourself more aware of what FFA can offer you also grow yourself into a more independent person. FFA made me much more independent quicker than I would have ever been because I was responsible for additional preparation for travel and other activities.
9. “Conduct and value a supervised agricultural experience program.”
FFA is not all cows, plows & sows. However – it does offer an awesome opportunity to raise animals or develop a business based in other aspects as an entrepreneur through an SAE (Supervised Agricultural Experience). Raising dairy heifers was probably one of the funnest things I’ve ever done. I learned so much about animal health, nutrition and behavior the last few years of high school. There’s also nothing quite like the feeling of a cow wrapping it’s sandpapered tongue around your arm in the middle of the summer to enjoy a salty treat.
10. “Strive to establish and enhance my skills through agricultural education in order to enter a successful career.”
Twenty-four Career Development Events are offered to help in preparing future agriculturalists for the 22,500 jobs that are part of the hiring deficit for those majoring in agriculture (this year alone). The average age of the American farmer is just under 60 years of age so to be sustainable agriculture support the development of new people passionate about producing food. There’s lots of room for students new to agriculture! With the population of the earth expected to swell to 9 billion in 2050 we need all the innovators we can get.
11. “Appreciate and promote diversity in our organization.”
FFA encourages people to be informed about where their food and fiber comes from and to be familiar with several different ways this occurs which is an excellent way to promote diversity. With just two percent of people actively farming it can be challenging to find reliable information about where food comes from. Ninety seven percent of farms are family owned and they’re proud of bringing products to serve your needs.
Are you an FFA or 4-H member with a story that is truly “on fleek” about how your organization makes a positive impact? Share with the #FFAPROUD! Promote Ag literacy and join the growing number of people who are excited to make a REAL positive difference in the lives of others by serving as a reliable resource when discussing where food comes from.
Thanks for Reading!
Not today gif: https://m.popkey.co/b8d537/WpMA6_s-200×150.gif