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This week, high school FFA chapters across the United States are celebrating National FFA Week. Several students and faculty have strong connections to this special organization. Each year, students from the College of ACES earn American FFA Degrees and compete for national awards during the convention in October. The University of Illinois can proudly boast home to the previous two American Star Farmer award recipients, with Tyler Loschen in 2013 and Clayton Carley in 2012, both earning this prestigious award. The College of ACES is also home to several past state FFA officers, section presidents, state proficiency award winners, and state or national CDE participants. The university continues to show their support for these individuals by providing scholarships to students who have held officer positions at the section and state levels, or have earned a state proficiency award.
Any person who was fortunate enough to be a part of the FFA knows it is much more than just earning awards or competing against other members. As the organization’s mission statement says, “FFA makes a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth, and career success through agricultural education.” No matter your level of involvement, many of us can attest to the value of this agriculture youth organization, and recognize it as a major factor in our personal growth and development.
As we watch current and past members of this wonderful organization share memories and photos through social media this week, let’s also reflect on those individuals who shared in the experience with us. Fellow members, parents and family, and perhaps most importantly our agriculture teacher(s) were all important people in our “FFA lives”. Agriculture teachers serve unselfishly and contribute significant time outside of the classroom to encourage students to pursue their goals, strive for their dreams, and experience personal growth through leadership opportunities. For many of us, our agriculture teacher not only helped as grow as individuals, but also helped us learn the value and importance of agriculture.
As we celebrate National FFA Week, let us all continue to strive to live out our belief in the value and future of the agriculture industry “with a faith born not of words, but of deeds”.