Many of you who have listened to me speak over the years know that FFA has a special place in my heart. This organization and the people involved in its activities have been instrumental in developing the leadership of agricultural businesses and government. This year at the 59th ABA Agricultural Bankers Conference, Dwight Armstrong, National FFA Organization CEO, addressed the audience at the end of the first day.
First he asked all former FFA members to stand and be recognized, which represented almost one-third of the group. State and American degree holders and officers were identified as well. It was interesting to see the number of bank CEOs and leaders in the group.
Today there are over 540,000 agricultural education students, within 7,489 FFA chapters nationwide. Over 11,000 teachers, 50% being female, are involved with FFA. Surprisingly, there are chapters in 18 of the 20 largest cities in the U.S. Armstrong indicated that there are 7-9 million people who were once members of FFA. That is almost one in 30 people in the U.S.! FFA will be making a special effort to connect with as many as possible in the near future.
They will also be making a special effort to support training of farm financial standards, which are integral in increasing the financial literacy of our young farmers and ranchers. Let’s all be advocates of keeping agriculture in the classroom, and supporting 4-H and FFA, which foster critical emotional intelligence skills that build upon the classroom experience.
As I was waiting to see the doctor who is assisting in my recovery, it was interesting to see his FFA Greenhand Degree on the office wall. Yes, FFA experiences are something one never forgets!
Editor’s note: Dave Kohl, Corn & Soybean Digest trends editor, is an ag economist specializing in business management and ag finance. He recently retired from Virginia Tech, but continues to conduct applied research and travel extensively in the U.S. and Canada, teaching ag and banking seminars and speaking to producer and agribusiness groups. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.