The world of agriculture is changing, and so is a long-standing youth program that promotes it.
On Monday morning, the Barton County Commission proclaimed this as FFA Week in Barton County. Great Bend High School FFA members told commissioners the group is about much more than farming.
“The letters FFA stand for Future Farmers of America,” said Chapter Sentinel Jessica Disque “That’s part of our heritage that will never change.”
However, it is not only for students who want to go into production agriculture, she said. “FFA welcomes members who aspire to careers as teachers, doctors, scientists, business owners and more.”
So, in 1988, the national organization updated the name to just FFA. This reflected the growing diversity in agriculture.
Today, there are ag-related jobs such as agribusiness, agrimarketing, science, communications, education, horticulture, production, natural resources, forestry and others, said chapter Chaplin Corey Burnham. These are explored through classroom as well as hands-on educational opportunities.
Nationally, there are about 600,000 FFA members in 7,600 chapters who are involved at the local, state and national levels. The first chapter was formed in Virginia in 1920 following the 1917 Smith-Hughes National Vocational Education Act.
The GBHS contingent has 82 members and an active alumni group with 200 participants. Locally, the students have been involved in the Kansas State Fair, Kids Ag Day, hosted the state FFA convention and have held numerous fundraisers.
“FFA is probably one of the greatest youth organizations that there is,” said Rollie Peter, GBHS vocational agriculture teacher and FFA sponsor. “It’s great for the students.”
Commissioner Jennifer Schartz agreed. FFA promotes leadership skills and assures that there is a steady supply of qualified young leaders to move into the myriad of ag-related fields for years to come.