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Meeting Tomorrow’s Ag Leaders at the FFA Convention

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack center with FFA award winners at the 84th Annual National Convention of the FFA on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2011, in Indianapolis, IN. Photo courtesy FFA.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack center with FFA award winners at the 84th Annual National Convention of the FFA on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2011, in Indianapolis, IN. Photo courtesy FFA.

Last week, Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) representatives collaborated with bright, young agricultural leaders at the National FFA Convention. The event truly showcased talented youth from all over the country.

The National FFA Organization began in 1928 as a group of 33 young farmers and has since grown to more than 500,000 members. Through agricultural education, FFA members develop leadership skills and prepare themselves for personal and career growth.

Encouraging members to be well-rounded, the National FFA is about more than just traditional agriculture. The modern agricultural industry intersects with biology, chemistry, engineering and business and the National FFA urges its members–ranging in age from 12 to 21 years old–to excel in all of these areas. Because the organization stresses the importance of being well-rounded, members pursue positions in diverse professions. Notable alumni include President Jimmy Carter, former professional athlete Bo Jackson, and pop singer Taylor Swift.

AMS is proud to be one of the more than 300 exhibitors who participated in this year’s National FFA career show in Indianapolis, Indiana. We travel to events like this to meet and share ideas with the future leaders of the agriculture industry. We hope that our presence inspires these young students to seek a position within the USDA. We were impressed by the National FFA members and their leadership potential as we got to know some of them throughout the week.

Convention attendees had a busy schedule. They attended educational sessions and workshops, networked with organizations at the career fair, and heard from prominent speakers from various professions. Members were also treated to social events that included a performance by country music sensation Steel Magnolia and a rodeo. They also heard from Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who emphasized the importance of the agriculture industry and encouraged members to pursue a career in this field.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack makes remarks at the 84th Annual National Convention of the FFA on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2011, in Indianapolis, IN. Photo courtesy FFA.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack makes remarks at the 84th Annual National Convention of the FFA on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2011, in Indianapolis, IN. Photo courtesy FFA.

In addition to the career fair, AMS employees were involved in some of the convention events. An AMS employee, Pat Healy, served as an official judge at the Dairy Foods Career Development Event (CDE). The Dairy Foods CDE is one of 23 different CDEs that use competition to connect classroom learning to future careers.  This year 38 student teams demonstrated their skills in identifying  flavors and odors in milk, different cheese types, real and imitation dairy products, and milker machine unit defects.  They also completed several problem-solving tests.  The hands-on tests determined participants’ knowledge of milk production and marketing.  The team from Texas took home first prize.

The National FFA alumni here at the USDA would like to congratulate the organization for its tradition of developing young leaders. The National FFA encourages its members to believe in the future of agriculture. After spending a week at the convention, AMS certainly believes that the future is in solid hands.

Attendees visit booths at the National FFA Convention.  AMS was one of 300 exhibitors at the event in Indianapolis.

Attendees visit booths at the National FFA Convention. AMS was one of 300 exhibitors at the event in Indianapolis.

2 Responses to “Meeting Tomorrow’s Ag Leaders at the FFA Convention”

  1. Betty Shatto says:

    My Granddaughter went to this this year. We are so proud of her.

  2. Sara Webb says:

    I think FFA is a great organization. These young gain life changing skills in a challenging farm and ranch industry. I think it is terrible that the Department of Labor is working against allowing young people to learn valuable working skills on the farm. The newly proposed rules would not allow a grandfather to take his grandson under 16 years old and allow him to work farm machinery, dig post holes, clean grain bins, etc. I did all of these normal farm chores when I was growing up. I think it taught me responsibility and every day life skills. It is sad when USDA and DOL are in conflict with each other.

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