by Danielle Beard
Parsons, Kansas —
Learning to do
Doing to learn
Earning to live
Living to serve
Learning the FFA Motto by heart, as well as zipping up the “national blue” corduroy jacket embellished with “corn gold” embroidery is an experience generations of high school ag students across the nation have treasured.
Among those time honored traditions is National FFA week. Designated in 1947 to correspond with George Washington birthday — February 22 — this year’s FFA week runs from Saturday, Feb. 16 to Saturday, Feb. 23.
Sponsored by Tractor Supply Co. as a special project of the National FFA Foundation, FFA week grants members a chance to educate the public about agriculture. Chapters host teacher appreciation meals, speak to the public about agriculture, conduct “ag olympics,” volunteer for community service and more.
More than 550,000 members nationwide will participate in National FFA Week activities at local, state, and national levels. These members come from rural, suburban and urban environments helping to represent the diversity of avenues available in agriculture.
This year’s FFA week theme, “Grow” was picked to celebrate more than 80 years of FFA traditions and to initially anticipate the prosect of the organization’s future.
For Kelly Rivard, social media coordinator for AdFarm in Kansas City, Mo., “Grow” symbolizes her entire experience as an FFA member.
“FFA played a huge role in finding myself in my final year of high school — we founded the chapter my senior year,” Rivard says.
According to Rivard, ending up as president of her FFA chapter was a “growing up experience.”
“I had never had such a dynamic leadership role before — the amount of growing up I did to try and lead a brand new chapter to a successful pilot year was really life-changing,” she explained. “If we didn't make that year count, the FFA chapter wasn't going to survive. Now, it's in its sixth year and flourishing. I'm proud to look back on that. As well as, I'm proud to say FFA was pivotal in shaping me into the adult I am today.”
Rivard says FFA week is easy to celebrate, even as an alumni.
“FFA week fills me with joy to see how many bright, outstanding, driven young people are still involved in agriculture. It will help us feed, fuel, and furnish the world for generations to come,” she stated.
Rivard explains the neat thing about FFA is no matter where in the nation you are a member, the principles learned are the same.
“You gain perspective, through service experiences and learning about the greater food system as a whole. You gain life skills, through contests and projects. You gain social and professional experience, by working alongside your peers to reach a goal. I don't think I would have developed the amazing career I have today without the lessons FFA taught me,” she added.
Rivard stresses the importance of organizations like FFA for the future of agriculture.
According to her, “You learn a lot of life lessons, and FFA is a great, constructive way for people to grasp those life lessons and channel them into constructive activity and valuable experiences.”
“When you zip up a blue corduroy jacket, you're solidifying that you're part of something much larger than any one person, one chapter, one district, or one state. You're a part of a vital foundation to a successful society. Because, agriculture is the basis of a strong nation, and our young agricultural leaders are the basis of a strong future,” she concluded. £