I Blame The FFA For Changes In Rural Youth

Show-Me Life

In honor of National FFA Week, 6 reasons why I blame the FFA for the actions of America's rural youth.

Published on: February 21, 2014

Who hasn’t driven up the driveway at least one time to find livestock standing in their front yard? But multiple times in one week can only lend itself to the family tradition of playing the blame game. It all starts with the question, “Who left the gate open?”

Typically, what follows is the inquiry into who was the last one in the barn, who didn’t secure the gate with the wire or why did you not even think to stand the gate up? Then there is the denial, denial, and denial phase. In the end it seems that somehow the livestock managed to escape on their own and were so smart they could repeat the process at least a couple of times in one week.

I am not a fan of the blame game. But when your children come home from school, well, different in the way they walk, talk and what interests them, I think it calls for placing responsibility directly on the shoulders of the culprit. Quite frankly, I blame the FFA. And here is a list of reasons why.

1. When you walk into a grocery store and find yourself shopping in the artisan cheese section because processed American cheeses are no longer “good enough,” I blame the FFA. You are guilty of expanding a child’s palate through the dairy foods contest.

2. When your child’s fashion sense is limited to two out of three t-shirts with the FFA logo, I blame the FFA. (For those of you with boys is could be all three.) The FFA is responsible of instilling pride of organization and agriculture in students to the point they just have to display it--often.

3. When your child, along with his/her friends, must run the old farm truck through mud in order to take part in their school’s National FFA Week “Muddy Truck Day,” I blame the FFA. By encouraging behavior that honors and values tradition, the FFA is surely at fault.

4. When your child makes you late to an appointment (in my case, the Governor’s Conference on Agriculture) because there is an FFA meeting they “can’t miss,” I blame the FFA. The idea of developing commitment in the next generation lies squarely on the FFA’s shoulders.

5. When you open your cabinets to find all the can goods gone, I blame the FFA. The idea of teaching the importance of supporting others in your community through a food drive can only be the FFA’s doing.

6. When all of your children’s college tuition will be paid to an agriculture college, I blame the FFA. The FFA is responsible for exposing students to careers in agriculture though classes, Supervised Agriculture Experience (SAE) and contest teams, which takes them and my money to an ag college.

My list could go on. Over the years, I have seen how the FFA develops young people. I have interviewed FFA members on their farms, sat with them at dinner, and laughed with them at a fair. They always amaze me. They are articulate, funny and passionate. And I blame the FFA.

The FFA is one high school organization that is so much more than just competition. It is about developing young people personally and professionally. High school agricultural education and the FFA provides classroom and extracurricular opportunities to help young people train for a career, develop leadership skills, and inspire community involvement.

However, unlike our family blame game, I do not believe the FFA-organization or advisors- will deny its impact on the lives of Missouri’s youth. And if the organization can continue to guide youth through the gates that lead to success in high school, love of tradition, passion for community and pride in agriculture, well, you can always leave them open.

Post Tags: FFA, livestock

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  1. Josh says:

    When I was in middle school I didn't do any extra curricular activities. One off my buddies was in FFA and he asked me to join. I went up to the advisor and he asked me "why do you want to join?" The answer I gave was that I wanted to join because my friend wanted me to see what it was all about. A couple months later I was on my first CDE team " tool id" I studied and studied and eventually we went to state competition. A couple weeks later we got the results. We received 1st place!!! We then got recognized at state convention that summer. After that, I was hooked. In high school I joined the environmental science CDE and I am currently in college for that degree. If it wasn't for FFA, I don't know what I would be doing

  2. Mark Fritch of www.loghomz.com says:

    As a former high school vocational forestry instructor in Oregon, I can only tell you that it makes me proud that I am still in touch with some of my students after leaving classroom teaching over 30 years ago. We not only change their lives, but they change the lives of the instructors as well. Whenever I mention that I used to teach high school the question is invariable, "What did you teach?" I always proudly reply, "Kids. Great kids." And they thought I was going to tell them what subject I taught! The subject was just the vehicle to go play with the kids!

  3. Steve Kennedy says:

    FFA literally changed the direction of my life. Here is my story: I was a slacker and really had very little interest in school. Since I was the ''baby" of my family and my parents were older, I wasn't given a great deal of guidance concerning my future. As long as I was average or at least wasn't failing or causing serious trouble in school, my parents were OK. My oldest sister had gone to college (later became Dean of Education at Palm Beach Atlantic University), but I don't think my parents saw college in my future. At best, my dad wanted me to find some kind of skill that would keep me off the front lines in case I was drafted to Vietnam ( he was a WWII veteran). One day my Vo-Ag instructor invited me to a "Career Day" at Iowa State University. I was reluctant at first until he mentioned that we got to attend an Iowa State football game into afternoon. I had no expectations, but once I set foot on the ISU campus it was like an epiphany! I knew that this is where I should be!! Following the game, our Vo-Ag teacher gave us a tour of the campus. I asked him what you had to do to goto ISU? In a no nonsense response, he let me know that it took better grades than I was getting. I literally changed my attitude towards high school 180 degrees on that day. I knew I had a lot of lost ground to make up. My grades improved tremendously intho matter of weeks. My grade improved so much in Algebra class that the teacher wanted to know why the sudden change? He believed at first that I was cheating and It took awhile for him to realize that I really had changed. By the time my Senior year of high school arrived, I was doing well enough to be accepted at ISU. I loved college and my degree in Agricultural Business opened up many opportunities for my career. To this day, I still thank FFA for opening my eyes to possibilities for which I was totally blind.

    • Mindy says:

      Steve, Thanks for sharing. My FFA advisor is the reason I am an ag journalist. I wanted to be a vet, but he said I should be a journalist. As always, he was right.

  4. charley hunter of Hunter Show Cattle says:

    If you believe FFA is only for country kids, checkout Des Moines,Ia. FFA chapter. Almost all urban kids learning about agriculture!

    • Mindy says:

      Charley, You are absolutely right! That is the great part of FFA- bringing science and ag to urban youth. Thanks for pointing that out!

  5. Colleen says:

    I was in FFA 30 yrs ago in Austin, TX. a very large city, then and now. LOVED every minutes of it, and I still have my blue chord FFA jacket with LANIER HIGH SCHOOL - AUSTIN, TEXAS emblazoned on the back

    • Mindy says:

      Colleen, We are a generational FFA family with different blue jackets. My daughter thought our Christmas card should be the family in the jackets. (Not sure mine would fit!)

  6. Melita Clemons says:

    as a previous high school FFA member & secretary, the things I learned have helped me make good decisions throughout my life- Bravo.

  7. Chad says:

    Yes FFA and 4H are to blame. Both have a great impact and offer some great opportunities.

  8. Linda says:

    Awesome. I found myself almost giggling at some of the reasons. Our family can blame FFA in Kansas. We are a third generation family involved in FFA and 4-H. Youngest daughter has been out of high school for 10 years and her FFA shirts are still part of her wardrobe. Lol

    • Mindy says:

      I bet like me, you have enough to make a quilt!

  9. Alicia Wright of wrightsrockyacres.com says:

    Very well put I too blame the FFA for assisting in the development of both of my girls and my stepson into the successful young women and man they are today. We have dedicated FFA advisors here in Missouri that truly inspire the youth to grow and develop their talents. I take my hat off to each and every one of them. I myself am an honorary FFA member and hold that title with pride.

    • Mindy says:

      I love the honorary degrees. It means you too played a part in the FFA's success. Thanks.

  10. Pam Youngblood says:

    Thank you for a wonderful article. Our oldest daughter was the recipient of an FFA scholarship as well, and now has her Professional Engineer license, and I blame FFA for that. She was very shy and hated having to talk in class before FFA. Our youngest is following in her sister's footsteps. The majority of her wardrobe (or at least the stuff she wears the most) has an FFA emblem on it. I just wish our school put as much value on the program as it deserves.

    • Mindy says:

      You are very welcome. Thank you for sharing your story. I love it when the FFA takes a shy student and makes them confident. Ag needs that. The world needs that.

  11. Mary Jane Dover says:

    32 years later I still "believe in the future of farming with a Faith born not of words, but of deeds." I blame the F F A.

    • Mindy says:

      Love the FFA creed!

  12. Cari says:

    Very true with the Texas FFA chapters, too. I have a daughter that just graduated Texas A&M. She had ALL her schooling paid for through FFA scholarships and other individual scholarships that were not FFA related, but I believe with all my heart that she got them because of the values and leadership that the FFA instilled in her.

    • Mindy says:

      Best part of the agriculture industry--it supports the FFA. Kudos to your daughter!

  13. Amanda Jones says:

    As I was reading this I realized #2 applies to me. I have about a dozen shirts with FFA logo on them and I wear them all the time and I am wearing my Parish Livestock Showteam shirt from about 5 years ago as I'm typing this lol my wardrobe consist of t-shirts (mostly FFA related), blue jeans and boots all year round, even when it's 100 degrees in south Louisiana :)

    • Mindy says:

      As a parent, it makes my heart smile when I wash all of those t-shirts! lol Keep showing your pride in the FFA and ag.

  14. Tim says:

    Going to one of the rare rural schools in Montana without ffa, I switch 4-H in there and it has the same exact meaning/message. Congrats FFA on an amazing run. Continue the great work.

    • Mindy says:

      Tim, I completely agree. My daughters were in FFA and 4-H. Both great organizations.

  15. Dori Belcher says:

    Very nice.

  16. Gerri says:

    Thank you. This is beautifully said. I will be sharing on our facebook page and with the SD FFA Foundation board. We so need parents to speak out and promote FFA. Sports always seem to take center stage.

    • Mindy says:

      Gerri, Thank you so much. We at Penton Farm Progress love the FFA. As one of its editors, I enjoy spotlighting FFA youth. Great program. Great kids.

      • Elizabeth Ramirez says:

        I'm an FFA member and I couldn't be more grateful for such amazing opportunity! I'm barely a freshman , and I have already realized there's more to FFA than farming but making an impact in the industry of agriculture.