4-H, FFA on the Move
As the leaves on the trees are changing due to fall, I become vigilant of the traditions that we observe this time of year: picking apples, carving pumpkins, Friday Night Football, and Trick or Treating at Halloween. These traditions are part of our heritage. In Webster’s dictionary, heritage can be defined as “the traditions, achievements, beliefs, etc., that are part of the history of a group or nation.” Many of us, when researching our families and our communities, discover that many traditions are rooted in Agriculture. Butchering on Thanksgiving or making apple butter with our family, taking turns stirring the bubbling hot kettle for hours on end. Many of us still take part in these traditions, but for some of us, these are only memories. As society changes, new traditions are created, but there are many which remain steadfast.
The National FFA Organization is one of those traditions that has withstood the test of time. Founded in 1928 as the Future Farmers of America, the organization was created for white, male youth who had an interest in farming and were enrolled in vocational agriculture classes. Fast forward 87 years later, the organization is now referred to as the National FFA Organization. Membership includes male and female youth of all ethnicities who are interested in the industry of agriculture and are enrolled in agricultural education classes in school. Although the face of FFA membership has changed, the FFA continues to represent the same ideals and values that the organization was founded upon: Premier Leadership, Personal Growth, and Career Success.
Students enrolled in high school agricultural education courses learn the importance of agricultural heritage, while learning to appreciate the current trends in the agricultural industry. Agricultural students learn the math, literacy, and communication skills that are important in a competitive job market. Many students become Career and Technical program completers and receive industry certification they can use to earn a job or apply for college. Other students start their own small businesses or remain involved in food production on the local level. No matter what path agricultural students choose they are equipped with the skills and work ethic needed to be successful in any career and be self-sufficient citizens in our society.
A tradition many agricultural education programs experience in the fall is attending the National FFA Convention at the end of October. FFA members and teams who advance from state level contests compete this year in Louisville, KY, to represent their chapter and state on the National level. Also, FFA members who have earned the distinguished American FFA Degree are awarded this honor at the National FFA Convention. Members who receive the American FFA Degree must be graduated from high school and have earned at least $10,000 from their agricultural enterprises and then invest at least $7,500 of those earnings in other enterprises or savings.
This year, FFA members from Wetzel County will be attending National FFA Convention to serve as representatives for the state of West Virginia, to participate in competitions, and to receive the American FFA Degree. Members of the Magnolia, Hundred, and Pine Grove FFA Chapters will represent our state at various workshops, college fairs, and the career exposition. The Hundred FFA Chapter will be competing in the National Parliamentary Procedure Career Development Event; and FFA members Mary Bassett (Pine Grove FFA), Rocky Tennant (Hundred FFA), and Peyton Jones (Hundred FFA) will receive the coveted American FFA Degree Key on the concluding day of the 88th convention.
FFA membership and blue and gold is often synonymous with success. Many people in our area and region who are leaders in their profession have ties to agricultural education and the FFA Organization. Agricultural education and the FFA strives to educate the leaders of tomorrow to be involved in some facet of the agricultural industry, whether on a small-scale personal level, or as a large producer in the industry. Even though society has changed from families who grew everything they consumed to a society where a majority of people buy all their food, it is still important that we understand where and how our food is produced. Because at the end of the day, everyone has to eat.
Annie Hall, Agricultural Education Teacher and Pine Grove FFA Advisor
Valley High School