Last June, I watched Jordan Johns take the stage at the Illinois FFA Convention and deliver five speeches during the state officer elections. Elections are nerve-wracking to watch, let alone participate in, hoping to get another year in the blue jacket serving the state’s membership. But Jordan held steady, calmly sharing her FFA journey with fellow Illinois members. She was elected state FFA treasurer and has served with grace this year. It was a pleasure to meet her again at the Illinois Harvest Dinner last September. She was one of two FFA members who attended and helped connect farm to food for the non-farmer audience. Jordan even rang the dinner bell (see picture). Continue reading
You met Tyler’s sister earlier this week. His journey to FFA reads much like hers. “We have a very small school district and almost all of the high school student are enrolled in Ag Ed classes and FFA. My family farms and I just knew it was definitely something I was going to get involved in high school.” It was the natural thing to do. Although Tyler’s time as a member has been incredibly rewarding, he is looking forward to becoming an alumni and giving back. Continue reading
At my first national FFA convention, which was also my first time in official FFA dress, I was Brandon Roop. That was the name embroidered on the right side of the borrowed jacket I wore.
Before my next official event, with permission from my advisor, Mom and I carefully snipped away the gold threads and the town’s seamstress stitched my name in place of Brandon Roop. That was my first ‘official’ FFA jacket. Continue reading
Carrie Taets Northcott is an FFA Alumni from Annawan, Illinois, who took agriculture classes and joined the organization because of her love of agriculture. Oh, and her dad was the teacher. Her story resonantes with me, particularly her ability to speak to large groups without hesitation. FFA teaches that kind of self-confidence. She is a scientist working in cardiovascular safety at Pfizer. Thank you for sharing your FFA story Carrie! Continue reading
Brian King (pictured center) is a recent graduate and charter member of the East Burke FFA Chapter. And in the charter year, he placed first in the regional prepared public speaking career development event and participated at the state level. That says something – about Brian and his advisor. Building a program takes time, but with great support from the community, parents and school, students can reap the rewards of FFA immediately. Continue reading
Faith Stegbauer’s entry to FFA was a given. Her family farms. Her brother was a member (you’ll read about Tyler later this week). Why wouldn’t she join? Her youthful enthusiasm for agriculture and the blue & gold inspires me. Sometimes we adults need to remember that feeling that the world is there for the taking; we just have to be brave enough to take it. Continue reading
FFA changed the trajectory of my life. I write and speak about it often. In a short four years, the iconic blue jacket took me from a freshman wallflower to a senior student leader. Now 20 years later, I still refer to the simple lessons taught through the FFA. Continue reading
Recently I joined parents and students in our high school auditorium to view the documentary Beyond Measure. The film profiles several school districts, their teachers, administrators and students, spotlighting the tired side of a standardized educational system driven by assessments and testing. Then the filmmakers give us a taste of what could be by introducing those who dared the system — teachers who refused to give state mandated tests; teachers who tossed a cardboard box, wires, and a few robotics manuals at their students and said, “Build.” Administrators who asked their staff, “How can you be an effective teacher and how can I support you in that endeavor?” Continue reading
It’s National 4-H Week, celebrated every year the first week of October. 4-H is that organization for me . . . the one that at the time I wasn’t thrilled about joining but hindsight being 20/20 and all. Without 4-H (and FFA) I wouldn’t be writing, speaking, sharing . . . farming. At the time I didn’t know I was learning skills that would serve me for the rest of my life. Now I know. Continue reading
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If you follow any farmer bloggers, I would venture you’ve been reading a lot about fairs – 4-H fairs, FFA fairs, county fairs and state fairs. Fairs are the quintessential summer activity giving us funnel cakes, lemonade shake-ups, corn dogs, … Continue reading