The 2023-2024 school year is off to a busy start! Our students attended several events this summer to continue their FFA involvement. These events included the Florida FFA State Convention and Expo this past June in Orlando, middle and high school students had the opportunity to attend Forestry Camp at O’Leno State park, and the Florida FFA Foundation offered the Summer Leadership Conference at the Leadership Training Center in Haines City. Numerous Polk students attended these events and had an engaging and exciting time!
This year, the Florida FFA Association was blessed to receive state appropriations from the Florida Legislature State Budget for an initiative titled “Preparing Florida’s Workforce Through Agriculture Education.” This $1.25 million will be used to provide membership affiliation for every student enrolled in agriculture education within Florida, enhance the delivery of programming in leadership, personal growth, and career success, and increase the ability to host leadership and career development opportunities for members at the FFA Leadership Training Center. This means every single student in an agriculture class will become an FFA member. By eliminating this barrier, it is hoped that this will increase student participation in career and leadership development events. It is also the hope of the Florida FFA Association to increase the programming opportunities for chapters throughout the school year. We are excited to see the impacts of this funding through the elimination of dues for members at the state and national level as well as more opportunities for involvement all year long. We appreciate the support of our local and state representatives who saw the importance and wide reach this state appropriation can have on the next generation of agriculturists.
We had an opportunity to kick off the school year with our supporters at Polk County Farm Bureau on August 22 for the annual Polk County Farm Bureau Youth Speech Contest. Both middle and high school students had an opportunity to compete for cash prizes! Students wrote and delivered speeches centered around how supply chain issues have impacted Florida agriculture. Everything from transportation issues to delays in parts and packaging as well as the ability to hold items at peak freshness and move them in a timely manner to consumers were discussed by students. It was evident the students not only researched their topics but studied them thoroughly to be able to answer questions about them. The top high school and middle school competitors are listed below:
- Clayton Keene, Lake Wales Senior FFA
- Jasmyn Billano, Haines City Senior FFA
- Charleigh Wood, George Jenkins Senior FFA
- Mattie Fountain, Lakeland Christian Middle FFA
- Mason Scheloske, Blake Academy FFA
Congratulations to these students on their success, and we hope to hear more from them at the next opportunity for prepared public speaking!
FFA Chapter Presidents and Advisors are gearing up for the first leadership conference of the year — the Florida FFA Chapter Presidents Conference on Sept. 16 and 17 in Kissimmee. Chapter Presidents Conference (CPC) is first in a series of training conferences for chapter FFA officers. The conference helps newly elected (or soon to be elected) chapter officers identify their strengths, develop growth plans, and better prepare them to lead your chapter officer team. We look forward to all the skills these chapter presidents will embrace and bring back to their local chapters.
The Polk County FFA Federation officers have their first county competition to prepare for this month as we begin the year with the County Opening and Closing Ceremonies Contest. High school and middle school chapters will have the opportunity to go head-to-head in a friendly battle for the team that is best prepared to open and close a business meeting. This contest is held Sept. 26 at George Jenkins High School, and we look forward to seeing who comes out on top.