Congratulations to the Future Farmers of America, FFA! This is National FFA Week, a tradition that began in 1947 when the National FFA Board of Directors adopted the week of George Washington’s birthday in recognition of his legacy as an agriculturist and farmer.
I was fortunate to be able to meet earlier in the week with this year’s state FFA leadership team. They are bright, well-informed, optimistic, energetic and inspiring! I unfailingly come away from my meetings with FFA students reassured that the future of agriculture in all its dimensions is in very good hands. They clearly understand the opportunities and challenges ahead and are prepared to embrace them. We are all beneficiaries of this outstanding youth leadership development program.
In another meeting this week with members of Coro, a leadership training program for civic leaders, I met a former member of 4-H, another fantastic youth leadership program that fosters future farmers and others who will serve agriculture. This young woman asked me, as a former 4-Her myself, how I use my heart, my head, my health and my hands in my current job. It was very thought-provoking, because I have often recited the 4-H pledge invoking those elements at the beginning or end of speeches. I told her I definitely lead with my heart and that it’s critical for someone in my position to have compassion for all who may be impacted by our programs and our decisions. In using my head I believe I must never stop learning. I read a lot and am accused of being an information hound, because it is important to gather a diversity of perspectives and be inclusive in our decision making. I am dedicated to living a healthy lifestyle through diet and exercise to make sure I can give 100 percent every day. As for my hands, well, I don’t use them much unless I’m operating a keyboard or gesturing while talking, which is ironic given the multitude of hands necessary to plant, nurture, harvest, process and prepare the food humanity depends on!
FFA Week is a good time for all of us to consider the critical need to support our youth and applaud their enthusiasm for agriculture – its future as well as its legacy.