A weekly blog for all things conservation
By: Nathan Dewing, Agricultural Team Leader, Bradford County Conservation District
Farmers today face challenges. Farmers of any day have. So too will farmers of the future. That is one reason a group like the Future Farmers of America (FFA) exists – to help get them ready.
Four Northeast Bradford High School students are now wearing blue and gold as they begin a series of leadership challenges that will shape them for life. Joshua Keeney, Emma Neuber, Kale Winters, and Kaleb Keeney are obviously willing to grow as they don their first FFA jacket in January 2021. Their jackets were awarded to them from the Pennsylvania FFA Alumni Association after each wrote an essay about what the FFA jacket means to them and about their plans in FFA and in agriculture.
Future Farmers of America adopted their blue and gold colors in 1929 after being launched a year prior to help prepare aspiring youth for a life of production. In 1933, the blue corduroy jacket with gold print was adopted as official FFA dress. Isn’t it refreshing to see things that stand a test of time?
It’s easy to be a consumer, but being a producer takes some grit. We need producers. We caught up with Kale, Emma, and Josh at the beginning of a school day where they told us a bit about their beginning with FFA using a remote, video conference interview through the computer screen, something we have become all-too familiar with through this year. We first asked them what their FFA jacket means to them. They each said that it stands for some hard work and dedication to growth.
Each of them is already producing. Kale and Josh both are actively raising cattle, while Emma works with some laying hens. Each of these enterprises, no matter the size, is burgeoning with possibility. For starters they are producing valuable products that people need. They are living the many details and work required to get to a final product. They quickly gain skills necessary to produce at larger scales.
A usable product is only one result, however. It’s leadership growth that is really at the heart of FFA, as NEB Ag teacher, leader, and investor, Mr. Brian Pifer explains. FFA launches students into leadership. Students have opportunities to speak, lead, travel, experience, invent, and collaborate, to name a few. These experiences and skills will be foundational for any path a student takes.
Emma says she envisions owning and running her own café, and that skills gained in FFA will give her a significant start. Josh looks forward to building a dairy farm and sees his future remaining in production agriculture. Kale wants to raise angus beef cattle.
FFA is encouraging this kind of thinking. Each of us should consider how we too can encourage it and how we can help provide opportunities for young people to step out. Pray for these four students, and the others that you know, and look for ways to give them a boost. Josh, Emma, Kale and Kaleb – we believe in you! You have what it takes. Keep getting back up. We look forward to seeing you produce and grow.
The Bradford County Conservation District is committed to helping people manage resources wisely. You can visit the Bradford County Conservation District at 200 Lake Rd in Wysox across from the Wysox Fire Hall. Contact us at (570) 485-3144 or visit our web page at www.bccdpa.com.
Various staff at the Bradford County Conservation District