More than 650,000 U.S. students participate in FFA programs
By Diego Flammini
The next generation of America’s agricultural industry is in the spotlight this week in recognition of National FFA Week.
More than 650,000 students belong to 8,568 Future Farmers of America chapters across the country. The program is an intra-curricular program that allows students enrolled in agricultural classes to gain leadership and explore up to 250 possible career choices.
“National FFA Week allows the students to explain what FFA is and what it means to them,” Kristy Meyer, marketing and communications manager with FFA, told Farms.com today. “It’s an opportunity to share the importance of agriculture and related education, when you think about how agriculture is truly all around us in the food we eat, the clothes we wear and the fuel we use.”
FFA is generally associated with farm kids, but one of National FFA Week’s officers is proof that the program is for everyone.
Piper Merritt, FFA’s central region vice-president, grew up in Owasso, Okla., without a connection to agriculture. The now 20-year old became aware of FFA programs at the age of 12 after transferring from a private to a public school.
She is currently enrolled in the agricultural economics program at Oklahoma State University with a goal of pursuing a career in agricultural policy. And she credits FFA for helping her discover her passion.
“I found a career calling I’m passionate about,” Merritt told Farms.com today. “I’ve been empowered and have grown as someone who’s confident because I was motivated and encouraged in my agricultural education classes.”
And Merritt hopes her story can be an inspiration for other students without direct ties to agriculture.
“There’s already a pretty large membership of our organization that comes from urban areas and that’s one thing that’s unique about FFA,” she said. “It closes the gap between rural and urban America, and helps students realize they can have a career in agriculture regardless of their background.”
National FFA Week wraps up on Feb. 24.
Use the hashtag #FFAWeek to follow National FFA Week on social media.
Top photo: Piper Merritt