National FFA–More Than a Blue Jacket

National FFA Week just occurred, but in many ways, every day is FFA day. The organization becomes an integral part of young people’s lives, and it focuses on not only agriculture, but also science, business, and much more. Check here to catch up on a few of the many activities that FFA week featured.

** This site highlights a National FFA member’s essay—she says the organization is more than wearing a blue jacket—it becomes part of who you are. It represents what you stand for and where you going. “I give credit to FFA for making me a farmer and leader with spirit.”

Sydney and Mikayla
** Iowa-raised Sydney Weis is pursuing an ag-based college education, but she knows that the National FFA Organization has inspired her whether on the farm, at school, or in her daily activities. The following list comes from her blog (click here for the original version with photos). Mikayla (with Sydney at right) is also taking college ag courses, and she is an admin. assistant intern at CAST.
1. FFA Taught You How to Keep Records
While not my favorite activity, keeping records on my Supervised Agriculture Experience (SAE) prepared me for success. You learn how to record assets, depreciation, and how to figure gains and losses. This comes in handy when you are out in the real world! Being required to keep records may have taught you how to use Excel which is extremely useful. Personally, this task helped develop organizational skills from tax season to coordinating notes from class. My life is pretty orderly thanks to my old FFA record books.
2. FFA Taught You How to Tie a Tie
A skill that is taken for granted quite often is the skill of tying a tie. While most young ladies get away with the scarf that clips in the back, it was important to know how to tie a tie when a certain male member of your parliamentary procedure team forgot. This skill comes in handy now and again whether tying your own tie before a big interview or just helping a buddy out!
3. FFA Taught You How to Speak
From the very beginning of freshman year, you learned the FFA Creed. You learned how to articulate certain words and add emphasis where needed. Fast forward to the Public Speaking Career Development Event and you learn how to write and present a speech. Perhaps you spent a day at the Legislative Symposium and had the opportunity to speak with your state’s leaders. The level of professionalism used and speaking skills developed through opportunities in the FFA probably helped you through a college speech class–and now help you excel at work, meetings, and in casual conversation.
4. FFA Taught You How to Lead
Running your first meeting as chapter president or leading a committee at state convention can get pretty nerve racking, but after all that preparation you probably nailed it. The hours you spent understanding effective leadership styles and communication through events like Chapter Officer Leadership Training or at the State Leadership Conference for District Officers really pays off after high school. You are probably directing a collegiate organization like Block and Bridle or heading regional committees, running board meetings, and even local or state governments with the leadership skills you gained through FFA.
5. FFA Helped You Decide on a Career Path
If you were anything like me, deciding your college major, let alone your career, was no easy task. Through FFA you got the chance to experience many different types of careers inside and outside of agriculture. Through SAE’s, trips, contests, and more you were probably exposed to your current career through FFA. Who knew you might like floriculture and floral design? Maybe you found your passion for agribusiness through the agriculture sales CDE. FFA is known for preparing students for agriculture related jobs like business, marketing, science, communications, education, horticulture, production, natural resources, forestry, and more!
6. FFA Gave You Lifelong Friendships
Of the 649,355 student members involved in FFA you were bound to make a few lifelong friendships. Whether you met them at Greenhand Fire-Up, State Nominating Committee, District Officer Gatherings, or even the National Convention you made some darn good friends who share the same values as you. Great people come out of the FFA–and not to exclude our advisors. They still serve an important role after your days in the national blue and corn gold. Some of them even become lifelong friends, too! Everywhere I go I run into someone who was an FFA member themselves. These connections have turned into a great networking community and have helped me obtain quite a few job opportunities.
7. FFA Paid for Your College Tuition
No college debt? That is probably because the National FFA Organization awards around $2.2 million dollars in scholarships each year for its members. If you didn’t receive a scholarship from the National FFA specifically, you were probably awarded a scholarship for listing your involvement in the organization on your application somewhere. The National FFA has a pretty good reputation and most scholarship committees commend students for that.
8. FFA Let You See the World
The FFA took me to places I had never dreamed of traveling to before. I could probably drive to Indianapolis blindfolded and backwards also. I had the opportunity to travel to Haiti with the FFA through a program called, “FFA to Haiti.” It was the experience of a lifetime and I gained tons global perspective. Students all over the country participate in activities like the Washington Leadership Conference which takes them to Washington, D.C., to learn and explore at our nation’s capital while defining leadership skills. Maybe you even traveled outside of the United States with the FFA through ILSSO, National Office, or the Stars and Proficiency Travel Experience.
9. FFA Taught You How to Interview
Through preparation for chapter contests and more, the FFA definitely prepared me for difficult interview questions. My advisor used to bring in people from the community that may or may not have experience with the FFA and had them interview me. It was TOUGH, but it prepared me better than anything for scholarship and job interviews. While not only developing certain interview tactics I also gained confidence. My confidence radiates when I am sitting in front of an interview committee and I guarantee it would not be there without the help of the FFA.  I dare you to compare the interview of a former FFA member to someone who wasn’t involved in the organization. I imagine you would be impressed! Those skills stem from many hours spent in and out of the agriculture classroom preparing for a successful career.
10. FFA Helped You Learn How to Volunteer
Last and not least, the FFA taught us the importance of volunteer work. From small fundraisers to National Days of Service the giving spirit of FFA members shines through. I would say many of my volunteer opportunities and even ideas came from my FFA chapter. FFA members are some of the hardest working individuals and would give you the shirt off their backs if you let them. This translates into a strong work ethic in the workplace and dedicated community members. The FFA motto even states the dedication members have for service.
“Learning to Do, Doing to Learn, Earning to Live, Living to Serve”

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