FFA turns 90 this year, and there's a lot to celebrate. What began as a group of crop and livestock farmers is now a premier youth organization with a membership of more than 625,000 across the U.S., dedicated to developing leadership, personal growth and professional success for students pursuing careers in agriculture, science, business, technology and hundreds of other fields. FFA gives young women and men the chance to explore their unique interests and gain real-world experience with the guidance and support of more than 11,000 FFA advisors and ag education teachers.
Throughout our history, Farm Credit Mid-America has partnered with many entities to achieve our purpose of securing the future of rural communities and agriculture. FFA is no exception. We've been a proud supporter since our beginning. Many of our 1,100 employees also cite FFA as a formative life experience and have stayed involved with the organization. Here are a few of their stories:
Summer Goldman - Louisville, KY
Outside of my parents, FFA and the people I met through my membership had the most significant impact on my path to adulthood. Being raised outside of Bowling Green, Kentucky, FFA was the first time I was exposed to agriculture and it lit a lifelong fire. Advisors soon became mentors who supported my leadership development and supervised agricultural experience projects, allowing me to gain real-life experience in the industry. I can't imagine where I would be now without the program. In my professional life, I committed to finding a way to give back by serving as a member of the Indiana FFA Foundation Board. This was one in a long list of FFA experiences that allowed me to network and develop lifelong relationships. FFA programs are critical to developing future leaders, and not just for agriculture. It is the premier youth leadership program offering young people the opportunity to learn about life sciences in a way they might not have otherwise.
Lauren Wallace - Dickson, TN
FFA changed my entire life. As a girl who grew up in rural America but wasn't directly involved in farming, FFA gave me most of my perspective on agriculture. In four years I went from being tongue-tied during creed speaking practice as a freshman to giving my retiring address as a State Officer in front of a large crowd. This was only part of the transformation FFA helped me undergo. FFA directed my post-secondary education, leading me to pursue an education in agribusiness, which later led to a career with Farm Credit. FFA even led me to my husband, whom I met on my State Officer team. Today, we live on a small farm, have chickens and raise a garden to help immerse our own children in the joys of farm life. Soon, we plan to raise heifers. I hope my children also choose to be part of FFA!
Daniel Jordan - Louisville, KY
What I appreciate most about the FFA is that it served as an avenue for personal growth. A good example was my involvement in contests that had a public speaking component. During my sophomore year, I participated in the regional Impromptu Speaking Contest and got a fair rating. Because I was never a fan of public speaking, I wasn't surprised. I continued to participate in FFA contests, including impromptu speaking, dairy judging and parliamentary procedure. My confidence and public speaking ability improved as I participated in these contests. During my senior year, I won the regional and state Greenhouse Impromptu Speaking contest, and the following year my team won the state Dairy Judging contest. This is a testament to the personal growth that the FFA fosters in youth and its community.
Mikki Warnock - Marion, IN
There is no organization that stoked my passion for the agriculture industry like FFA did. My involvement began as a freshman in a high school ag class, where I was completely unaware of the possibilities and opportunities the class would bring. During my time in FFA, I received my American FFA Degree and became the first female Indiana State Star Farmer. I was also a national finalist in the Job Interview CDE and a state FFA officer. I further developed a love for animal agriculture through the Livestock Evaluation CDE, where I placed in the top five in the state and earned a trip to the national contest. This recognition and achievement did not come without the hard work and the many thankless hours my agriculture instructor and community supporters devoted on my behalf. FFA made such a difference, in fact, that I majored in agricultural education and became an agriculture instructor and FFA advisor after college. After I transitioned to my position at Farm Credit, I made a commitment to continue to devote time to the FFA. I am very thankful to work for a company that encourages employees to support their local youth organizations.