There’s never any shortage of news each day to make us worry or feel less than certain about the future, and that’s been especially true lately in agriculture, between trade concerns and low commodity prices.
But if you want to feel good about the future of agriculture and the future of this country in general, you need only attend the Wisconsin FFA Convention.
A couple members of The Country Today staff — who also happen to be past state FFA officers — were fortunate enough to attend this year’s convention, which drew about 3,500 people earlier this month to Madison.
One would be hard-pressed to find a more polite, well-spoken group of young people than those in FFA. It’s easy to be impressed. Look no further than the proficiency award winners — with amazing projects in everything from agricultural education to wildlife management, the speaking contest participants eloquently addressing topics such as pollinators and the rebirth of the American industrial hemp industry, the agriscience fair participants and the talented musicians performing in the honors band and chorus.
Think back to what you were doing when you were 17 years old. At that tender age, Amelia Hayden of the Big Foot FFA Chapter already has a career in microbiology in her sights and has taken the reins of one of Wisconsin’s biggest youth organizations. As state FFA president, she’ll spend the next year heading up an 11-member team of state officers as they represent Wisconsin FFA in meetings with agricultural businesses and others and interact with young people across the state.
FFA chapters leave a lasting impact on their local communities through Food for America programs that educate thousands of elementary school students about where their food comes from, and they often can be seen around their areas pitching in to help with community events such as dairy breakfasts and tractor pulls.
These young people appreciate agriculture, are intelligent and are excited about their place in the industry. Maybe more importantly, FFA members, as a group, are kind, courteous and know right from wrong.
The organization’s mission has evolved since it was founded in 1928, and it’s now not as much about grooming the next generation of farmers — although it still does that very well, which is more important than ever. It’s just as much about training tomorrow’s agricultural researchers, marketers and communicators. One thing has remained constant: FFA produces strong leaders who grow into contributing members of society.
The Country Today has long supported the efforts of Wisconsin FFA, through news coverage, National FFA Week ad groupings, assisting with judging and hosting benefit silent auctions. In recognition of these activities, former editor Jim Massey received the FFA’s prestigious VIP Award at the recent state convention. Elsewhere in this edition, you’ll find our monthly FFA Chapter Profile, featuring the Cumberland chapter.
There’s a reason why this newspaper has chosen, time and again, to throw our backing behind Wisconsin’s more than 21,000 FFA members and will continue to do so: We know the investment of our time and money in the next generation of agriculturists and young people wearing the blue and gold is money well spent, and the benefits come back to all of us.
If you haven’t had the chance before, make time to attend part of the Wisconsin FFA Convention in June 2019. You won’t be disappointed, and you’ll leave confident that, as one former FFA parent put it, “the future of our nation is in good hands with these upcoming leaders.”