IT’S THAT TIME AGAIN. The school buses will in route, the bells will be ringing, and students will be starting their countdown to Thanksgiving break! It has been an awesome summer for our Polk County FFA members. Some attended FOA and FLA camp, many went to the Florida FFA State Convention, and a small group flew to Washington, D.C., to attend the Washington Leadership Conference.
As students are heading back to school, I have asked different FFA members why they chose to take Ag as their elective. When Theresa Yhon was asked what made her take agriculture and what she would say to incoming students, she answered, “I took Ag in high school because I love agriculture and going into it opened my eyes to more than the animals and hard labor — it’s a huge industry. To the incoming students, I say: Take Ag. It opens hundreds of doors, and there is literally something for everyone. Don’t just take Ag because you think it’s an easy class; take it because you want to learn more. I learned more in my Ag classes than I did in any other class and Ag ends up in your other classes as well, so that’s a plus!”
Theresa was raised in an agriculture background, so it was a no-brainer for her to select Ag in ninth grade. Now, for all of you saying, “Well, I wasn’t raised in agriculture; I don’t even know how to grow stuff.” Take a look at Victoria Harris. She joined Ag her sophomore year at Strawberry Crest High School. All she knew was that she wanted to be a veterinarian one day, and last year she served as Florida’s state FFA secretary! That just goes to show you that you don’t have to be raised on a farm or even take Ag in middle school to get far in your FFA Chapter. When asked if taking Ag and being involved in FFA was worth it, Victoria said, “I decided to take a vet assisting class because it was something I thought I was interested in, and the teacher ended up talking me into it.”
Likewise, I joined FFA on a whim while participating in a Career Development Event (our school offered a free lunch if you joined by a certain date). It was the best decision I’ve made! For three years, my agriculture class served as a way for me to learn about this amazing industry. It really opened my eyes to how innovative farmers are and the challenges they face every single day. It showed me how agriculture is dynamic and evolving. Being in FFA allowed me to see how what I did applied directly to the workforce and gave me skills that no other class or club could teach. Plus, it taught me so many leadership skills and made me come out of my shell.
It was definitely daunting at first, so I’d encourage students to not become discouraged. I initially really felt overwhelmed and thought I didn’t fit in, but I soon realized there’s a place in ag for each of us. We all eat three meals a day and can help farmers by just being an informed consumer. Moreover, with some help and time, students without a background in ag can know just as much as their peers who are raised on a farm!”
For those of you from a background like Theresa, go into class with an open mind, not like you “know it all,” and widen your knowledge of the field. For those coming from a background like Victoria, use her as your inspiration! There is something for everyone in Ag/FFA.
I hope all of you have a wonderful start to your school year! As always, when you are sitting in Ag class, remember to thank an agriculture teacher.
article by ABBY CRAWFORD
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Abby Crawford is currently enrolled at Warner University, majoring in Agriculture Studies with hopes to go into the agriculture education or communications field. She is the former president of the Haines City High School FFA chapter as well as the voice behind 97 Country’s segment, “Ag Time with Abby,” which airs the first Friday of every month during the Breakfast Club with Roger and Melissa. Abby is also the 2014 Polk County Farm Bureau Youth Speech Contest Winner. For questions, FFA news, or FFA story ideas, email Abby at firstname.lastname@example.org.