FFA is one of the most recognized and well-known clubs in the United States. Actually, it is the largest youth organization with 669,989 members in 8,630 chapters spread across all fifty states, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands.
FFA was started in 1928 by four men: Henry Groseclose, Edmund Magill, Walter Newman, and Harry Sanders. They created this group and called it “Future Farmers of America.” However, being a “farmer” is not a prerequisite to being allowed to be part of this organization. In fact, over half of the current members are not farmers. The organization changed its name to “National FFA Organization.” in 1988.
In FFA, you can earn degrees. There are five degrees ranging from the lowest, the Discovery Degree, followed by the Greenhand Degree, Chapter Degree, State Degree, and American Degree. You have to earn them in order. To earn them, you have to show progress in leadership. One percent of FFA members get the American Degree, but Mrs. Brunton (Ag Teacher), Ms. Patterson (student-teacher for Mrs. Brunton), Max Udelhoven (2018 Potosi graduate), and Hannah Nusbaum (2019 Potosi graduate) all managed to obtain this prestigious level. This degree means different things to them, but they all said it helped them see how they can affect the world one step at a time. Earning this degree takes many hours of community service and a lot of effort and patience.
Anyone in Potosi School District can join the FFA chapter from 8th grade up. Our chapter has over 40 members and is growing. Our advisor is our Ag teacher, Mrs. Brunton. This year’s FFA officers are as follows: Sentinel is Logan Uppena, Treasurer is Emily Bierman, Reporter is Aspen Walsh, Secretary is Natalie Edge, Vice President is Lilly Post, and President is myself, Jack Kaiser.
FFA is a lot more than just learning about agriculture. FFA is about respecting the ag industry, but also having fun doing agriculture-related activities. These activities include soil judging, livestock judging, and public speaking. The activities are competitions against other local school districts, and your final competition is statewide. You can do these competitions if you choose to, or you can sit them out. “99% of the FFA members in Potosi are not farm kids, which should tell you something about what FFA has to offer. It’s more about having an appreciation for agriculture, not just farming,” said Mrs. Brunton.
According to FFA members, there are many reasons why you should join. “I would say, what have you got to lose? There are so many different aspects to FFA that there is something for everyone. Being an FFA member is about what you make of it; I will never force you to do something you are not interested in. If you want to be a member, just to say you are a member, fine. If you want to be on every judging team that we can offer, fine. It’s going to be what you want it to be and we’ll help you find your place and your interests,” said Mrs. Brunton.
Hannah Nusbaum included, “I would say without a doubt, join! There is so much you can learn from this organization! The people you meet, the things you experience, the places you can go, and the lifelong memories that you will never forget. FFA helped me prepare for my future and led me to a career that I love and I have no regrets. Join FFA and give it a chance, it may help you, like it helped me.”
Lastly, Ms. Patterson said, “I would tell them to try it for a semester to see if it is the right fit for them. FFA has many aspects of other clubs throughout schools, such as traveling, public speaking, and leadership. The opportunities are almost endless and a huge perk is you get to meet many people from all over the country while traveling to conventions and contests.”
I would tell you to join without skipping a heartbeat. The activities you do are so much fun. This year, something new we did was a Drive Your Tractor to School Day. This was something that did not happen for a long time. The members who didn’t have a tractor drove lawnmowers. It was something that will stick with me for the rest of my life.
Whether you think FFA is for you or not, I encourage you to try it out. I truly believe there is something in this club for everyone.