Across the nation this week, FFA members will be holding events and engaging their communities in their chapters as part of the celebration of National FFA Week, held Feb. 15-22.
This year’s theme is “Ignite,” and it embraces more than 80 years of FFA traditions while looking forward to the organization’s future.
More than half a million members will participate in National FFA Week activities at local, state and national levels. These members have a passion for agriculture.
FFA Week gives members a chance to educate the public about agriculture. During the week, chapters host teacher-appreciation breakfasts, conduct “Ag Olympics” competitions, speak to the public about agriculture, volunteer for community service projects and more.
The week of George Washington’s birthday was designated as National FFA Week in 1947 at a National FFA Board of Directors meeting. FFA Week always runs from Saturday to Saturday, and encompasses Feb. 22, Washington’s birthday.
“Founded in 1928, the Future Farmers of America brought together students, teachers and agribusiness to solidify support for agricultural education. In Kansas City’s Baltimore Hotel, 33 young farmboys charted a course for the future. They could not have foreseen how the organization would grow and thrive,” the National FFA website states.
It continues, “Since 1928, millions of agriculture students — no one knows exactly how many — have donned the official FFA jacket and championed the FFA creed. FFA has opened its doors and its arms to minorities and women, ensuring that all students could reap the benefits of agricultural education.”
National FFA Week did not start out as a week-long event.
At first it was National FFA Day. The 1933 National FFA Convention proceedings records the beginning of FFA Day in this way: “Stewart of Montana requested the floor at this time to present a matter of general interest. He suggested the idea of having a special Future Farmer Day some time during 1934, preferably on one of the regular national FFA broadcasting days. It was pointed out that the various state associations could perhaps plan special state broadcasts also on that day and that chapters might plan their father and son banquets on the date specified. The idea seemed to meet with general delegate approval and after some discussion it was moved by Stewart that the Board of Trustees arrange for such a day; motion passed.”
The state organization is led by the state officer team including Tim Stahley, president; Alison Seedorf, vice president; Snowy Grover, secretary; Dusty Corliss, treasurer; Wilson Ogg, reporter; Clay Patton, sentinel; Brady Rink, executive committee; Kayla Calvin, executive committee; Karen Williams, executive committee and Ashley Higgins, executive committee.
“We get to display all the great things that FFA does in that one week. FFA Week is important because 90 percent of the chapters come together and perform community service projects, such as writing letters to troops, visiting a nursing home or working with elementary school students. Community service is always a great thing, and it helps FFA members to give back to the community,” said Clay Patton, the state senteniel, who is from the Genoa/Hugo chapter.
He continued, “They also inform the public about ag, which is important everywhere, even in rural areas. We have people who live there who are not from an agricultural background as well. They educate the public by putting on petting zoos and tractors rides, and the public can see and ask questions they have about ag. The students can answer in a professional matter, which creates a positive image for youth and for agriculture,” he said.
National FFA week gives FFA members the opportunity to showcase their chapters in their local communities, while developing unity and providing public speaking opportunities.
“My favorite part of FFA Week is meeting with someone who has an idea about agriculture, but wants to know more. They are truly interested, and you are able to give them the information they are looking for. You see that spark when it all makes sense, and you get to see the trust they have in the people who are raising their food,” Patton stated.
The Colorado officer team will hold their National FFA Week celebration a week later, where they will attend the legislature with Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg, and will cap off the FFA celebration with the Agricultural Hall of Fame Banquet, which will be held on Feb. 27.
He enjoys FFA and FFA Week for the unity that it creates.
“From the members standpoint, there are a lot of us across the U.S. that are united in blue corduroy. Wherever we go, there are people who know and understand what I am doing,” he said.
He added, “It’s been an awesome experience to be an officer, and very humbling. I get to see our 6,000 members do great things, and I get to see them showcase that during FFA week. I am looking forward to seeing more of them and having a great convention in May.”
Patton began his career in agriculture in 4-H, and joined FFA where he pursued a diversified livestock production program as well as public speaking. “I loved public speaking, and felt that my voice got to be heard, and the knowledge that I had was heard as well as my viewpoints and opinions,” he explained.
FFA makes a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success. Today’s FFA members are the innovators and leaders of tomorrow. Through agricultural and hands-on learning, they are preparing for more than 300 career opportunities in the food, fiber and natural resources industry.
National FFA Week is sponsored by Tractor Supply Company as a special project of the National FFA Foundation.
The National FFA Organization provides leadership, personal growth and career success training through agricultural education to 579,678 student members in grades seven through 12 who belong to one of 7,570 local FFA chapters throughout the U.S., Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. ❖