From left: Austin Coslet, Bryce Breshears, Zack Harvey, Grant Maupin and Grant Driskell pose with the John Deere tractors at Marshall High School during National FFA week on Feb. 25.(Michaela Leimkuehler/Democrat-News)
I'll never forget the blank expression on my friend's face when I casually mentioned three little letters--FFA.
"What does FFA stand for," she questioned me. I was flabbergasted. I'd like to consider myself an ag-vocate, yet, one of my very good friends acted as though I had just spoken in a foreign language.
"Future Farmers of America...so everyone who's in it is a farmer," she replied.
No, not quite.
The National FFA Organization has heritage with the population who wishes to become production farmers, but even non-ag kids can benefit from its membership. The letters don't even stand for Future Farmers of America anymore. The organization has changed it to just FFA to encompass students from all backgrounds, not just farming ones. The focus can now be on the future of America, while inserting whatever job title you'd like in-between.
I graduated with 375 other students from Park Hill High School in Kansas City. I have to admit, back then I would not have been able to tell you what the letters in FFA meant either. Much like my friend, I would not have thought twice about what that acronym could stand for.
So what does it stand for?
It stands for self-confidence, respect and leadership. It stands for making friendships, volunteering and responsibility. The organization is about more than just promoting agriculture, it's about encouraging and teaching the next generation to become involved in their school, community and country.
I was blown away when I first started working as the Agriculture Reporter for Marshall Democrat-News. In my opinion, the youth of Saline County are some of the most well-spoken individuals I've ever met. They are respectful, intelligent and kind. I'm thankful to be able to get to know them on a professional and personal level. Hats off to their parents and the FFA advisors. You are raising a future America instilled with gold and blue values.
Not everyone in FFA has their heart set on becoming a farmer. They might be preparing to become politicians, firefighters or doctors. The friendships, education and experiences they extract from the organization will last throughout their lifetime.
Happy National FFA Week!