A weekly blog for all things conservation
By: Guest Columnist Cheyenne Bastian-Brown, Bradford County FFA President
What do you think of when you hear FFA? When confronted with the concept of what FFA (formally known as the National Future Farmers of America Organization) is, many people focus primarily on the word farmer and look no further for any other explanation. Since the title includes the phrase “Future Farmer,” it is then believed that each member of the organization is in pursuance of one day becoming a farmer, a landowner, and someone to feed the world population… nothing else. Typically, this is the idea that most parent/guardians have in mind when their student pursues an interest in agricultural education.
Although this stereotype was set in 1928 when thirty-three delegates from eighteen states met to set bylaws and a constitution, FFA has grown progressively since then. With this organization featuring over seven hundred thousand members and eight thousand chapters in all fifty states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, there is a great deal of diversity, ethnicity, and unlimited potential that spans the FFA globe. Each member is catered to with unlimited opportunities that fit any background, from the kid that grew up around livestock to the student that grew up in a “concrete jungle.”
This untapped potential, that I have personally heard about from so many members, is quickly found and later displayed through successes in Career Development Events commonly deemed CDE’s. With CDE’s and Leadership Development Events (LDE’s) spanning from Environmental and Natural Resources to Extemporaneous Public Speaking and even Floriculture events, there is a vast area for both growth and discovery - growth in both knowledge and leadership.
Included in the constitution of the National FFA Organization is their mission stated as, “The National FFA Organization is dedicated to making a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education.”
FFA today is about more than sows, plows, and cows; it's about growing leaders, achievers, speakers, and job seekers. With ample opportunities, nurturing environments, and continuous support systems, FFA truly grows more than just farmers. It grows the leaders of tomorrow. Over the course of the traditional FFA tenure, typically eight years, many students make connections that catapult them into their future careers. This has been demonstrated time and time again within my own personal chapter. From Kristin Pepper who found her niche by participating in the CDE of Environmental and Natural Resources to Makyah Gleckner who found his path during recurring visits from the Bradford County Conservation District in class, the list goes on and on. Each of them choosing to continue their education past that of the NOCTI certification.
I myself have found my own niche after joining the Canton FFA chapter in 2016 and partaking in any opportunity possible. Prior to joining FFA, I was unsure of where I was going to attend college, what to pursue a career in, and when I was even going to grow out of my shell. Through state led leadership conferences, leadership from both chapter and county officers, and pursuing any CDE or activity thrown at me, I soon found myself developing into a better person. Four years later, I have had the opportunity to be known, by name, by the PA Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding. I also decided to pursue a career in agricultural law, serve as county and chapter President, serve a year as the Troy Fair Queen and developed my own public speaking and interviewing skills. Without any of these small personal accomplishments, I know I wouldn’t be who I am today. This story of myself is one of one and a half million other individuals that have been touched by FFA.
So many skills are developed through FFA and agricultural education including that of public speaking, leadership, teamwork, communication, presence, poise, and effective decision-making being only a few. Therefore, although FFA leads with the impression of only farming, there is so much more beneath the surface that anyone can discover.
I leave you with a challenge. The next time you see an FFA member with their chapter or state conference T-Shirt on, or wrapped in their blue corduroy jacket, stop them and ask them for a minute of their time so they can tell you how FFA has helped them develop into the person that they are today.
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